Bank Workers’ Take-Over Wells Fargo & Bank of America Lobby, Demand End to Sales Goals

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, October 19th, 2015
Media Contact: Renata Pumarol 646.462.9281 rpumarol@nycommunities.org

Bank workers from across the country converged in Los Angeles, CA to protest major U.S. banks for declining working conditions

Los Angeles, CA – Hundreds of bank workers and supporters occupied the lobby of a Wells Fargo and Bank of America in downtown Los Angeles.

Members of the Committee for Better Banks, a national coalition of bank workers, took over the lobby at Wells Fargo’s LA Regional Headquarters  on 330 S. Hope St.  to protest the bank’s obsession with sales goals that affect bank workers and consumers across the nation. Workers and their supporters attempted to meet with executives and delivered a petition to the bank with over 11,000 signatures calling for an end to sales goals that hurt workers and customers.

Workers also protested the declining working conditions in the banking industry and unveiled a set of demands to guarantee better banks for communities and bank workers.

Earlier this year, the city of Los Angeles sued Wells Fargo for unlawful and fraudulent conduct. The civil complaint said that rigid sales quotas pressured its employees to engage “in unfair, unlawful and fraudulent conduct”.

Khalid Taha, a Wells Fargo personal banker from San Diego, discussed the bank’s obsessive sales goals:

“Since I started working at Wells two years ago, my blood pressure went up; I started suffering from insomnia and anxiety. I am only 27 years old, and yet the high-pressure sales goals are already taking a huge toll on my health and well-being. I am here today at Wells Fargo’s LA HQ because employees are fed-up. We need reasonable sales goals. We want to be able to provide our customers with the services they need, not worry about being written up if we don’t sell enough credit cards.”

Wearing clip-on ties and holding signs that read “just because I wear a tie does not mean I can pay my mortgage” and “#BetterBanksToday”, the workers complained about the dismal working conditions at major banks across the U.S and demanded a fair share in the profits they create, as well as access to full-time and stable employment.

Bank workers and community members then marched to Bank of America where they proceeded to also take over their lobby. They delivered over four thousand petition signatures demanding the bank to properly train their workers to better serve their customers.

Tony H.  a customer service representative at a Bank of America call center said: “Workers at Bank of America are not receiving the proper training we need to better serve our customers. That takes a toll on workers as much as it does on our customers. Dozens of my coworkers were fired by Bank of America for insignificant mistakes that could have been avoided with proper training.”

Bank workers were also joined by community groups and labor groups such as the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), People Organized for Westside Renewal (POWER), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and Car wash workers.

Bank workers are the latest workforce to join the growing movement for better conditions & fair wages. Workers highlighted the exorbitant bonuses and wages given to bank executives while front-line wages have been stagnant.

The workers’ action comes months after a report released by the National Employment Law Project that shows almost three-quarters (74.1 percent) of bank tellers in the United States earn less than $15 per hour. The report presents significant data on the disparities between frontline workers’ earnings and bank executives’ compensation. While a full-time bank teller earns on average about $25,800 per year, full compensation packages for executives can run in the tens of millions of dollars.

The bank worker day of action ended at US Bank’s iconic downtown LA headquarters where they highlighted how front-line bank workers are no longer on a path to the middle class.

“It is heartbreaking to think that I was better off when I was 25 than now at 63,” said Brenda Goins,  Relationship Manager at US Bank.  “I have decades of customer service experience yet, I don’t make enough to afford a decent home, or to save in order to retire with dignity. I’ve seen white men get promotions and raises, even though many other workers have more experience. I am taking action today because we need to change the banking industry. We need to bring dignity back to bank workers across the country.”

“When the recession hit, American Express offshored my job and made me train my replacement in India. While I was getting paid 60K, they will pay him 6K.” said Michael Lewis Financial Crimes Specialist at Wells Fargo. “I then had to take a job at Wells Fargo making 25K less”

“I am single mom, and my current wages are not enough to support myself and my daughter. My bank makes billions of dollars every quarter, yet I had to take a $2,100 cut per month. We need our biggest banks to invest in front-line workers like me so we can raise our families and serve our community. That means raising pay, and providing full-time work,”  said Keiana Harrell, Collections Agent at US Bank.

ABOUT THE COMMITTEE FOR BETTER BANKS
For the first time, bank workers are joining with community allies to speak out about the low pay, high-pressure sales goals and unstable working conditions that lead to predatory practices and have formed an innovative organization, the Committee for Better Banks. The coalition includes: Make the Road New York, New York Communities for Change (NYCC), Minnesotans for Fair Economy, Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment, Jobs with Justice and local affiliates, the Communications Workers of America union (CWA) and UNI Global Union.

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