Wells Fargo employees pushing to organize union across bank’s workforce
Workers at Wells Fargo, the third largest bank in the US, are pushing to organize a union across the bank’s workforce with Wells Fargo Workers United, a campaign with the Committee for Better Banks, which successfully won the first union contract in the banking industry in 40 years at Beneficial Bank in 2021.
Wells Fargo has faced a series of scandals in recent years, from the fake account scandal in 2016 exposed by whistleblowers with the Committee for Better Banks, to mortgage and auto loan abuses, adding on products to customer accounts without their knowledge, a lawsuit filed this year alleging mass overtime pay violations and, according to a recent report, the bank has used fake interviews to increase records of the bank’s diversity efforts.
“If it’s left to the senior leadership, the changes won’t occur. So we have to collectively bargain and take control ourselves,” said Jessie McCool, a senior compliance officer at Wells Fargo in Missouri for about eight years and a member of the workers’ organizing committee.
McCool started to get more involved with the Committee for Better Banks and joined the Wells Fargo organizing committee during the pandemic, when management culture and working conditions deteriorated further.
McCool said Wells Fargo suffers from management problems including company policies that are applied unevenly or unclear,which often has resulted in enabling discrimination, retaliation or scapegoating of workers by managers.
She cited a few examples, including being given an informal warning for being distracting when her child was playing in the background of a Zoom meeting, fighting against attempts by management to have pro-union message on her email tagline removed, to a female colleague being blamed in a meeting by a senior vice-president for missing compliance edits on a company brochure that she had made but were disregarded by the manager.
“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,” McCool said. “We have the ability to rise up collectively and address these policies and their uneven adherence.”