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📣CAMPAIGN UPDATE: Call center workers present petition demanding protections against job loss

Barnhart call center workers present petition to management demanding job protection

This week, employees of Wells Fargo at the Barnhart and Sunset Centers presented their demands to management that any closures of sites be accompanied by offers of permanent work from home or other remote work options for any and all displaced employees affected by layoffs.

Since Wells Fargo announced they could be consolidating and closing multiple sites as a way of saving money on office resources, workers at those locations have been left in a state of limbo and morale has plummeted. Given the nature of the work and the years of dedication many have given to the company, there is no reason for Wells Fargo to utterly abandon countless workers, many of whom have built their careers at the company. 

Call Center Petition

The petition was signed by over 100 workers, who together represent decades of experience that would be wasted should Wells Fargo take the short-sighted path of layoffs. Not only would such action be disrespectful to the workers themselves, but evidence of the poor decision-making and corporate culture at Wells Fargo that they cannot recognize how losing their talented, experienced workforce would have a negative impact on the company itself.

“We did not beg. We did not plead. We demanded!” said Cole Weber, a Fraud & Claims Operations Associate at the Barnhart call center, who helped organize the petition drive.  “And we are going to keep demanding that they give us the respect we deserve for building our careers here and earning them all that profit they've made. We don't get anything if we don't fight for it.”

Since organizing together to demand respect and alternative career paths for those who are displaced by the closures, many workers have said they are feeling more hopeful and empowered that they can fight together to preserve their jobs.


Workers in two more Florida branches file for union elections

The weather isn’t the only thing heating up in Florida! Two more branches filed for union elections this week, which if won would make five union branches in the state. On Monday, May 6 the Verandah Branch in Fort Myers presented their letter to management, followed by the Lakewood Plaza branch in Spring Hill on May 9th.

"With the constant reduction of staff adding more job responsibilities for the rest of us without any additional compensation, we have decided we need and deserve a collective voice so that we can effectively advocate for ourselves as a group," stated the Verandah letter.

Verandah letter

The Union Difference

Union Difference graph

Black, Latino and women workers are paid 26%, 39.2% and 23.8% more, respectively, when they belong to a union. Union contracts pay women and men the same for doing the same job. You cannot be fired for your sexual orientation or gender identity under a union contract.


 

Question of the Week: My manager is making it sound like contract negotiations are going to stretch on forever. How long do they really take?

Negotiations do take some time, in part because there’s just a lot that goes into a union contract. From establishing “just cause” job protections and improvements to scheduling, training, promotions, wages, benefits, workloads/staffing levels among many other things. You can see what we mean by taking a look at one of these sample CWA contracts:


You can see that each of those contracts has very specific language that is bespoke to the needs of the many different employees at those companies. That is one of the strengths of being able to negotiate your demands. Unlike federal and state labor laws, which have to be very broad in order to apply to every workplace, union contracts are an opportunity to make more specific rules that work for us. But as a result, coming to an agreement, not just between us and Wells Fargo management but also amongst ourselves in terms of what we want to ask for, isn’t something we can do overnight.


That being said, Wells Fargo is trying to make it seem like negotiations are going to drag on so long it won’t be worth it. Negotiating a first contract does take time, usually several months, because as you can see from these sample union contracts, there are a lot of issues to negotiate and it often requires persistence and pressure to get companies to more generous terms and conditions that we all deserve. When Beneficial State Bank and CWA negotiated the contract there, it did take 1.5 years between when worker organized in March 2020 and the contract was ratified, but negotiations began during the peak of the unprecedented global pandemic which dramatically slowed the process down. But even under those difficult circumstances, Beneficial State Bank workers voted to approve a strong agreement with significant improvements. (And remember, no Beneficial State Bank workers paid any union dues until AFTER they voted to ratify their contract, so for the year and a half they were in bargaining they paid no dues which means other CWA union members were supporting Beneficial State Bank workers during this bargaining period, now that’s Solidarity!)


In the morning huddles, Wells Fargo has also been saying that while negotiations are happening, there can be no unilateral changes in employee's terms and conditions of employment. Their example is discretionary wage increases or discretionary bonuses, and they make it sound like wages and benefits are frozen until an agreement is reached. That’s just not true.


Earlier this year, when Wells Fargo announced it was giving $1000 bonuses to branch workers, WFWU-CWA organized branches received their bonuses just like everyone else. No unilateral changes in your terms and conditions doesn’t mean there can’t be changes, it just means the company can’t do it without any input from the union. So if they wanted to get rid of your health care tomorrow, they wouldn’t be able to just roll that out and not tell anyone. It is absolutely a good thing and means you have additional protections against losing your benefits or having major shifts in policies— all starting day one after voting yes in your union election.


Without a union, Wells Fargo will keep operating like a dictatorship, where it’s take it or leave it and we have no voice and management will just give us lip service. Having a collective seat at the table to negotiate with management is a big change. And we want to make sure we get contract negotiations done right so we can win the best improvement possible. That’s going to require us uniting and sticking together.