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Fortune: "I work at a Wells Fargo call center. Here’s why people like me can save America’s banking system"

This op-ed originally appeared in Fortune:

I spend my entire day on the phone, from when I clock in each morning to the end of my shift at night. As an account resolution representative at Wells Fargo, I talk to customers whose credit card accounts may be impacted by extenuating circumstances, such as illness, incarceration, or the death of a loved one, and work with them to bring delinquent accounts into good standing. My job is to help people during the most challenging moments of their life.

I have spent 15 years working at Wells Fargo because I enjoy helping my customers, but Wells Fargo has made my job harder and harder. Wells Fargo is plagued by understaffing, unfair managerial practices, and a toxic work environment that make it challenging for us to deliver the best results possible for customers. The bank’s endless stream of scandals and lawsuits impacts our work and makes it clear Wells Fargo needs to change. That is why my coworkers and I are organizing a union–a first for a bank of that size.

In order to be better advocates for ourselves and our customers, Wells Fargo workers need a voice on the job. By coming together and organizing as a collective, we can transform the bank’s culture and make it a better place for our customers to do business. Through a union, workers would have a means of raising concerns about common issues at Wells Fargo like poor working conditions, unrealistic sales metrics, and a lack of transparency. In fact, it was Wells Fargo workers organizing with the Committee for Better Banks who were among the first to raise the alarm on the bank’s fake account scandal in 2016. With a union, we can stop the next scandal before it begins.

However, Wells Fargo has been resistant to our organizing efforts in branches, offices, and call centers and behind closed doors. I recently joined several coworkers at my call center in Oregon in filing Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges against the bank after management repeatedly tore down pro-union fliers from our workspaces. Other workers have faced threats and intimidation from management for being active in worker organizing. In testimony before Congress last year, Wells Fargo CEO Charlie Scharf pledged to “follow the law” and not interfere with workers’ efforts to join a union.

Wells Fargo faces a choice: continue down the path of union-busting–or forge a different, better path in which the bank and workers are collaborators, not adversaries. By respecting our voice on the job, Wells Fargo can work with us to become the best bank for workers, customers, and yes, shareholders. In fact, at this year’s shareholder meeting, one-third of shareholders voted in favor of a proposal that would enshrine Wells Fargo workers’ right to associate freely.

With a collective voice, Wells Fargo workers could advocate to eliminate discrimination and bias in the workplace and ensure the ethical and equitable treatment of all employees. A union would give us a means of collaborating with regulators, lawmakers, and shareholders to improve transparency, efficiency, and compliance. Empowered workers could serve as a much-needed check on the higher-ups at one of the most scandal-ridden banks in America.

Instead of following the same playbook of anti-union practices, Wells Fargo needs to work with us to find solutions and better serve our customers. My coworkers and I are organizing a union because we believe in Wells Fargo. We believe we can transform Wells Fargo into an outstanding place to work and an outstanding place to do business. By respecting workers’ right to collectively bargain, Wells Fargo can move towards a brighter future.

We know organizing at a bank as large as Wells Fargo is no easy task, but neither was winning the first union in the banking industry at Beneficial State Bank or subsequent wins at Genesee Co-op Federal Credit Union or Lake Michigan Credit Union. At Wells Fargo, we have an opportunity to transform the entire banking industry for the better. We believe in this mission, and we will not back down. Workers across the country, from Starbucks partners to graduate student workers to Hollywood writers, are finding their voice and exercising their power. Now it’s our turn.

Debbie Warren is a member of the Committee for Better Banks’ Wells Fargo Workers United and Wells Fargo call center worker out of Beaverton, Oregon.