* Fund decision protest of foreclosure policy in Michigan
* Union wants two-year moratorium on foreclosures
* Protest includes JPMorgan ties to RJ Reynolds (Adds comments from farm union, background, byline)
By David Bailey
DETROIT, Sept 23 (Reuters) - The United Auto Workers plans to withdraw funds from JPMorgan Chase (JPM.N) to protest the bank’s foreclosure policies and a labor dispute at its customer RJ Reynolds, the union said on Thursday.
JPMorgan Chase is one of the lead underwriters for a General Motors [GM.UL] IPO that will let the U.S. government start to sell its stake in the automaker that it guided through bankruptcy in 2009 with $50 billion of taxpayer funding.
JPMorgan declined to comment on the UAW protest, but last month said it had offered more than 900,000 mortgage modifications to homeowners since the start of 2009. The UAW had no comment on the bank’s role in the IPO.
A trust fund affiliated with the UAW holds 17.5 percent of GM common stock and is expected to sell some of that stake in the automaker’s IPO. The U.S. Treasury owns 60.8 percent of GM’s common stock.
The union said in a statement it was prepared to remove its funds from the bank to protest JPMorgan’s refusal to declare a moratorium on foreclosures in Michigan and a labor dispute at RJ Reynolds, which has received financing from JPMorgan.
RJ Reynolds has refused to negotiate with the Farm Labor Organizing Committee over wages and working conditions at farms of contract growers in North Carolina, the UAW said.
“Chase needs to help unemployed homeowners in Michigan and underpaid farm workers in the Carolinas,” UAW President Bob King said in a statement. “The bank could make a huge difference by suspending foreclosures and pressuring RJ Reynolds to do the right thing.”
An RJ Reynolds representative could not be reached for comment.
In a visit earlier this month, King told the committee he would support them and indicated he would remove UAW strike funds from Chase, FLOC spokesman Justin Flores said.
FLOC has sought a meeting with Reynolds for three years to discuss what the union sees as a pattern of abuse, he said.
“He left here with a renewed sense of outrage,” Flores said. “I am not familiar with the details of the GM IPO, but I know Bob King supports us. It’s another pressure point, I suppose.” (Reporting by Kevin Krolicki and David Bailey. Editing by Robert MacMillan)