Inside Wells Fargo employees' long, uphill battle to unionize
From Business Insider:
Like many Americans, Ted Laurel has lost loved ones to Covid-19. Those include some Wells Fargo coworkers, losses that have left him devastated and motivated to fix his workplace from the ground up.
Throughout the pandemic, Laurel, a specialist in Wells Fargo's mortgage business in Texas, said some of his coworkers were exposed to the virus after going into the office while people in other business lines had the option to work from home. He said that disparity became a "main driver for me" to dedicate time to forming a union with his coworkers.
"We are really fighting to make this equal for everybody and not just for our coworkers, but also for the customers — because that's who we're really here for," Laurel told Insider, adding that he believes if staffers are better protected and under less stress at work, they will better serve their customers. A Wells Fargo spokesperson said the bank is "deeply committed to the safety and well-being of our employees," and that it has had "extensive safety measures" in place during the pandemic.
Laurel is one of the leaders of a small, growing group of rank-and-file Wells Fargo employees across the US gathering support among coworkers to unionize their workplace.
It is an unprecedented effort for the nearly union-free financial industry that highlights some staffers' discontent at the country's third-largest bank and the wave of thousands of workers pushing for a bigger voice in their workplaces this year. It also comes as Wells Fargo faces scrutiny over a number of scandals and its Chief Executive Charlie Scharf continues to shake up the bank.
"A lot of bank workers don't realize they have the right to organize," said Nick Weiner, the senior campaign lead for the Committee for Better Banks at the Communication Workers of America, the union giant working with Wells Fargo organizers. "There is a bit of a learning curve for some folks who just feel like, 'Hey, things aren't right. But I don't know what I can do.'"
Workers on the union's 25-person organizing committee, which counts senior compliance officers, underwriters, personal bankers, tellers, and other employees, is gathering steam. The effort counts about 300 supporters in 25 states across the US, including Texas, Minnesota, Florida, and Arizona. This core group of employee organizers has doubled in about six months as they have ramped up their communications with colleagues. So far in June, 53 Wells Fargo employees have signed up for the CBB's campaign.
Wells Fargo won’t commit to union neutrality, and bank employees are preparing for an ugly fight