A group of Wells Fargo workers has filed a petition seeking a bank unionization vote. The petition, filed by employees at the bank’s Bethel AK and Albuquerque NM branches, notified the National Labor Relations Board of the groups plan to hold an election to unionize and join the Communication Workers of America’s Wells Fargo Workers United.
According to reports, more than a thousand workers at Wells Fargo offices across the U.S. have joined the unionization campaign. Their efforts are reportedly being supported by the group Committee for Better Banks. The move marks the first formal effort to obtain union status for employees of Wells Fargo, which is the fourth-largest bank in the U.S.
What’s behind the bank unionization vote effort?
Of course, unionization is a rarity within the financial sector. According to estimates, slightly more than one percent of workers in the finance sector are union members. Meanwhile, the BLS estimates that roughly ten percent of all U.S. workers belong to unions.
According to some workers who support the move, the push for unionization is largely driven by employees’ desire to change the company’s culture. In a statement, senior premier banker Sabrina Perez said:
“We are joining together in a union in order to improve Wells Fargo’s culture and move the bank towards a brighter future where workers and customers are treated equitably and with respect. While we are the first Wells Fargo workers to file for union elections, we will not be the last.”
An effort that may be gaining steam
Organizers of the union push claim that support for the move is growing within the company. In fact, Committee for Better Banks organizing director Nick Weiner suggested that hundreds of additional workers may join their petition over the next month.
Union supporters also point to Wells Fargo’s long history of consumer protection violations as a reason for unionizing. They claim that violations like 2016’s fake account scandal were caused by the firm setting unreasonable goals for employees. They argue that unionization would provide a structure for workers to resist that type of pressure.
Other workers point to insufficient pay. They allege that many customer-facing employees are forced to subsidize their income with public assistance.
For its part, the bank claims to want direct relationships with their employees. However, it claims to prefer direct connections with individuals rather than dealing with a union. For now, however, the push for a bank unionization vote will likely continue to move forward.