WSJ: "Workers at two Wells Fargo branches are expected to hold elections to decide whether to unionize"
The CEO of the first U.S. bank to unionize in 40 years: ‘We are living proof that the employee-versus-management dynamic doesn’t need to exist’
Bank Workers Win A Raise
After feeling intense pressure from the Committee for Better Banks exposing the high public cost of low wages in the banking industry, all of the major banks announced they would increase their starting minimum wage to $15 an hour. With a 2013 university study showing pay so low that one-third of bank tellers had to rely on public assistance like food stamps and Medicaid to make ends meet, Wells Fargo and the other megabanks were under increasing scrutiny for the quality of jobs that intensified as corporate profits grew and CEO salaries ballooned. In April 2019, Bank of America announced it was increasing its starting pay to $20 an hour, possibly kicking off another round of wage increases. In August 2019, Fifth Third Bank announced it was increasing its starting pay to $18 an hour. Meanwhile, not resting on our laurels, the Committee for Better Banks continues to fight for improving working conditions and fair compensation.
Los Angeles Requires Banks To Disclose Abusive Employee Sales Goals in Order To Win City Contracts
The Committee for Better Banks championed the first-in-the-nation amendment to a municipalities’ “responsible banking ordinance” that requires banks to disclose sales goals and other potentially predatory business practices. Triggered by Wells Fargo’s “fake account” scandal, CBB members including hundreds of bank workers, bank customers and community activists publicly testified and advocated about the need for improved disclosure and criteria to prevent the City of Los Angeles from continuing to do business with banks that exploit and abuse their own workers.
After the City Council passed the new Ordinance on a 10-0 vote on July 10, 2018, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti stated, “Every Angeleno should be able to share in the opportunities our city creates, and businesses that partner with the city should be held to the highest ethical standards. The Responsible Banking Ordinance will help us protect consumers and hold businesses accountable for unscrupulous practices.”
Nine months later the LA City Council voted 13-0 to replace Wells Fargo as its main banking partner.
Stopping Discrimination At Santander
The Committee for Better Banks fought back against Santander Consumer USA’s use of monitoring analytic software “Call Miner” to determine employees’ incentive compensation in all departments that was shown to discriminate against employees based on gender and dialect. Because workers organized and spoke up and got 32 Members of Congress to send a letter to the bank’s CEO Scott Powell, Santander Consumer USA removed its use in the customer service department.
Stopped Predatory Sales Quotas At Wells Fargo, But There is Still Lots More Work To Do
The Committee for Better Banks exposed the abusive predatory sales quotas and cross selling that was the source of the “fake account” scandal forcing the bank to change how it compensates workers. The government failed to act to reign in Wells Fargo’s predatory practices until frontline bank workers organized and spoke out. While some of the worst practices have ended, the Committee for Better Banks recently exposed again how stressful incentive pay and unattainable metrics are creeping back at Wells Fargo and the bank still has a long way to go.
Pentagon Federal Credit Union (PenFed) workers at the Eugene, Oregon call center form PenFed Workers United to fight against low wages, high pressure metrics, and understaffing. The workers launch an anonymous message board and get 120 followers.
In Minneapolis, workers at US Bank in the Collections Department organized and won $15 starting wage, 10% raise for veteran employees, 10 sick and safe time days from 6 sick days, and one week additional paid maternity leave.
CBB members went to Washington DC and met with key members of the Senate and House Banking and Finance Committee, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. CBB also organized a briefing for members of the House of Representatives with the Progressive Caucus. Two months after our trip to Washington DC, the CFPB and the OCC launched an investigation which resulted in the biggest fine to date on Wells Fargo.
Bank of America workers in Rhode Island organized around carpet fleas at their call center. They involved OSHA to solve the problem and won - no more carpet fleas! They also organized a petition and received better training in the call center.
CBB exposed the dirty underbelly of Wells Fargo policies and practices, raising alarms about the high pressure sales goals. CBB members launched a petition to end sales goals at Wells Fargo and collected over 17,000 signatures. CBB delivered it to the bank’s headquarters in San Francisco, to shareholders’ meetings, and to bank branches.