At Wells Fargo's annual meeting, workers and community allies protest employee and consumer abuses
Wells Fargo bank workers and customers gathered at the company’s shareholder meeting on Tuesday to call out the bank for anti-worker tactics, continued offshoring of jobs, and total failure to end predatory consumer practices that devastate the lives of millions of working families. At the same time, Wells Fargo bank workers in the Committee for Better Banks held sister protests at banks in major cities across the United States.
Bank workers called for a base wage of $20/hour, an end to the aggressive sales culture, and the appointment of a worker representative to the bank’s Stakeholder Advisory Council. In line with this recommendation, the practice of giving workers seats on the boards of major corporations is extremely common in other countries, and enjoys wide support across the political spectrum in the U.S.
“When I became a Wells Fargo team member in early 2017, several ethics problems at Wells Fargo had just been exposed to the public,” said Alex Ross, one of the bank workers who spoke during today’s meeting. “The process of rebuilding the community's trust in Wells Fargo is far from over, and Wells Fargo team members must be at the center of that process. Team members must be given adequate resources – including time, training, and manager support – to execute our responsibilities and safeguard our customers.”
Bank workers and shareholders mobilized investors nationwide to demand that Wells Fargo fire its board of directors and CEO Tim Sloan, break up the bank, pay restitution to those whose finances have been devastated by unethical and illegal practices, and respect workers' right to organize without retaliation. According to a CBB survey last fall, 54 percent of worker respondents stated that they had not been able to provide constructive feedback to their managers, and 12 percent said they feared retaliation for raising concerns.
“As bank workers and customers continue to pay the price for the Wells Fargo’s reckless and predatory practices, the bank is enjoying billions in tax giveaways,” said Erin Mahoney, an organizing coordinator for the Communications Workers of America. “On the heels of the account fraud scandal, Wells Fargo should be investing in U.S. customers, workers, and communities – not cutting corners.”
Across the country, bank workers at every major U.S. bank have been mobilizing to hold financial institutions like Wells Fargo accountable to workers and consumers – investigating discriminatory lending practices and advancing legislation intended to increase bank transparency.
“From Wells Fargo to Santander, we’ve seen banks in America run roughshod over consumers and not respect workers’ rights. We know that when workers have unions, they are able to report unethical consumer practices without retaliation,” said Angelo Di Cristo, Head of UNI Finance. “It’s time for Wells Fargo to live up to the standards followed by banks around the world and let their employees form a union without fear.”
The Committee for Better Banks is supported by the Communications Workers of America, a UNI affiliate; Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE); New York Communities for Change (NYCC); Jobs with Justice and local affiliates, and UNI Global Union.
Photo credit: Joshua Yospyn.