US Bank Fires Minneapolis Worker Who Raised Concerns About Bank’s Policies

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE    

July 14, 2015. Contact: Renata Pumarol, rpumarol@nycommunities.org

US Bank Fires Minneapolis Worker Who Raised Concerns About Bank’s Policies

He was leader in the Committee for Better Banks coalition that has called on the corporation to be a better employer and partner to the community

St. Paul  — On July 6th, US Bank Corp. fired an employee who had become a prominent voice within the organization calling for changes in the way the corporation treated its employees and engaged with the community. Israel Aranda was a banker for the company at a Minneapolis branch for two years, and was part of the Committee for Better Banks coalition that had submitted proposals earlier this year in meetings with bank representatives. The Better Banks proposals included:

  • Stop foreclosing on students during the school year.
  • Allow the Somali community to send money home to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Africa.
  • Eliminate bank policies that tied pay and job security to an unfair incentive system that also pressured workers to sell products that clients didn’t need.
  • Create evaluation procedures for bank workers that make sense with pay that can support a family.

“I won’t let US Bank scare me out of fighting for what is right. The Better Banks proposals we are fighting for are too important for us to stop,” said Aranda. “In talking with my co-workers and members of the community, I’ve seen how important our fight for these common-sense proposals is to improving the lives of workers, our customers and our community. U.S. Bank and its employees have a responsibility to families across Minnesota to be a good neighbor. At a time when banks are back to reaping record profits, US Bank executives should spend less time trying to silence its employees and more time listening to them and their community and act on these Better Banks proposals.”

Many members of the growing coalition in Minnesota expressed dismay that US Bank chose to take this action instead of taking concrete steps to address the concerns raised by Minnesotans.

As part of the coalition, Somali community leaders are fighting to ensure they have a lifeline to get money to their families in Somalia, a challenge that U.S. Bank had committed to help alleviate before backing out.

“We were very disappointed when US Bank committed to work with our community to send money to our families in Somalia, and then backed out,” said Sadik Warfa, a leader in the local Somali community. “Now they are silencing one of the bank workers who stood up for us within the bank, and that is not right.”

Faith leaders have also been at the forefront of the Better Banks proposals, and expressed disappointment in hearing the news about Mr. Aranda.

“As the faith community, we have asked US Bank to be a leader in stopping the destructive practice of high-interest loans and products that harm families in our community,” said Rev. Grant Stevenson, a leader with ISAIAH. “Israel was one of the first bank workers to raise his voice inside of the bank to improve standards for workers, families and customers. His words advocating for policies that strengthen families and our communities should be listened to and rewarded, not cause for him to be fired!”

Charges are being filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and other federal agencies in conjunction with Israel’s firing. US Bank workers will be part of a workers’ rights march and rally Wednesday in Minneapolis highlighting challenges facing working people in Minneapolis, the urgency of elected officials in the city acting to pass policies like paid sick, fair scheduling and wage theft enforcement, and calling on corporations like US Bank, via their role in lobbying groups like the Chamber of Commerce, to stop opposing these popular and needed policies.

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