- Wells Fargo employees are mobilizing to form a union, The Guardian reported Thursday.
- Organizers are demanding a pay raise for all Wells Fargo employees, an increase in staffing levels to enable smaller workloads, flexible work arrangements with time-off benefits and the ability to unionize without fear of retaliation, according to a flyer.
- Employees formed the Wells Fargo Workers United campaign with the Committee for Better Banks, the organization that won the first union contract in the banking industry in 40 years for workers at Beneficial State Bank in 2021.
Wells Fargo has policies that are unclear or are applied unevenly, which can enable discrimination, retaliation or scapegoating, Jessie McCool, a senior compliance officer at Wells Fargo in Missouri and member of the workers’ organizing committee, told The Guardian.
“If it’s left to the senior leadership, the changes won’t occur. So we have to collectively bargain and take control ourselves,” McCool said. “A lot of bank workers don’t realize we have the right to unionize, but it’s time that the management committees of our bank heard our collective voices.”
Ted Laurel, an account resolution specialist at Wells Fargo who has been involved with the Committee for Better Banks, said the COVID-19 pandemic acted as a wake-up call.
“When COVID came and safety was a major concern for us, I saw that my co-workers were not being treated the same as other co-workers who might have been afforded some safety protocols to not get sick or stay home,” Laurel said.
Wells Fargo employees with the Committee for Better Banks met in December 2020 with CEO Charlie Scharf over workers’ concerns regarding company policies, pay and benefits and have been angling for a follow-up meeting to discuss recent scandals such as interviews with nonwhite candidates for positions that had already been promised to others, The Guardian reported.
“We want the customer base to know that we’re forming a union really for them. We’re tired of having our name dragged through the mud at Wells Fargo because of things that we’ve asked to have more control over, but the company refuses to give us that control,” Laurel told the outlet.
A Wells spokesperson said, in an email, that the bank "believes our employees are best served by working directly with the company and its leadership to address matters of concern."
"When our employees have concerns, we want to hear directly from those employees to understand their perspectives and determine how we can work together to improve our workplace," the spokesperson added, pointing to other formats for discussion, such as the bank's confidential EthicsLine, its employee relations department, or one-one-one with a manager.
Unionization isn't unheard of in the financial sector. Employees at Genesee Co-Op Federal Credit Union in Rochester, New York, successfully unionized in January.
Wells employees say the union campaign comes in response to consistent short staffing, pay inequity and regulatory violations at the bank.
In little more than two months, the bank has taken flak over reports of racial disparities in mortgage lending, fake job interviews, anti-money laundering violations and home-lending layoffs.
Senate Banking Committee Chair Sherrod Brown, D-OH, castigated Wells in a letter this week over a laundry list of recent stumbles for the bank.
“Wells Fargo’s continued inability to manage the basic requirements of serving its customers means that consumers, investors and employees continue to pay the price,” Brown said.