Non-profit

Committee for Better Banks

Website:

betterbanks.org/

Project of::

Communications Workers of America

Type:

Labor Union Campaign/Organizing Project

Director:

Nick Weiner

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The Committee for Better Banks is a labor union organizing project founded and operated by the Communications Workers of America, a left-of-center national labor union representing employees in a variety of fields. The Committee was formed in 2015 and has focused on organizing bank employees to form unions. The group has particularly focused on Wells Fargo, forming Wells Fargo Workers United as a public effort to encourage Wells Fargo employees to form a union. The group is supported by a variety of other labor union-related organizations including Make the Road New York, New York Communities for Change, UNI Global Union, and Jobs with Justice. 1 2

Background

The Committee for Better Banks was formed in 2015 and organized its first campaign at a Bank of America call center in Rhode Island. The group has supported a variety of non-union organizing activities as there are very few unionized bank branches in the United States. The Committee was founded by the Communications Workers of America, a left-of-center national union that represents approximately 700,000 employees in telecommunications, customer service, media, airlines, health care, public service and education, manufacturing, and tech. 3

The Committee’s efforts represent an attempt by the CWA to capture bank employees as a new sector in the union’s membership. The Committee formed two local unions that affiliated with the CWA which included Beneficial State Bank (based in Oakland, California) and Genesee Co-Op Federal Credit Union (Rochester, New York) in its first few years of existence. 4

Wells Fargo Workers United

Much of the Committee for Better Banks’ efforts have been focused on attempting to organize local unions at Wells Fargo bank branches. The Committee has been engaging Wells Fargo employees since 2016 when, according to the Committee, members of the group assisted in exposing a scandal within Wells Fargo related to fake accounts and inflated sales metrics. 5

The Committee has also lobbied the Los Angeles City Council on the Wells Fargo scandals, which resulted in the city passing a “responsible banking ordinance” that requires banks to “disclose sales goals and other potentially predatory business practices.” The group also pressured the city to move its accounts from Wells Fargo. 6

The Committee then formed Wells Fargo Workers United (WFWU) in 2022 with the intention of formally organizing local unions affiliated with the CWA under WFWU. Since its launch in 2022, the WFWU has pressured Wells Fargo to conduct a “racial equity audit examining the bank’s employment and hiring practices,” met with banking regulators to urge stricter oversight of the bank, and circulated a petition to urge for employee pay raises at the bank. 7

In December 2023, a Wells Fargo branch in New Mexico voted to form a local union affiliated with WFWU, becoming the first branch of a major bank to unionize. That branch was followed by a Wells Fargo branch in Daytona Beach, Florida that voted to form a local union under WFWU in January 2024. 8

Affiliated Organizations

In addition to its affiliation with the Communications Workers of America, the Committee for Better Banks is affiliated with the UNI Global Union, an international union for financial services employees. Other groups listed as partners of the Committee include Make the Road New York, New York Communities for Change, Minnesotans for Fair Economy, Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment, Jobs with Justice, and local Jobs with Justice affiliates. 9

References

  1. “About Us.” Committee for Better Banks. Accessed January 15, 2024. https://betterbanks.org/about-us-0.
  2. “Wells Fargo Workers United.” Committee for Better Banks. Accessed January 15, 2024. https://betterbanks.org/wfwu
  3. “Forming a Union: FAQ.“ Committee for Better Banks. Accessed January 15, 2024. https://betterbanks.org/organize/questions
  4. “Forming a Union: FAQ.” Committee for Better Banks. Accessed January 15, 2024. https://betterbanks.org/organize/questions
  5. “Campaign Backstory.” Committee for Better Banks. Accessed January 15, 2024. https://betterbanks.org/wfwu/campaign-backstory
  6. “Past Victories.” Committee for Better Banks. Accessed January 15, 2024. https://betterbanks.org/past-victories
  7. “Campaign Backstory.” Committee for Better Banks. Accessed January 15, 2024. https://betterbanks.org/wfwu/campaign-backstory
  8. “Wells Fargo Workers in Florida Win Union Election.” Committee for Better Banks. January 11, 2024. Accessed January 15, 2024. https://betterbanks.org/press-releases/wells-fargo-workers-florida-win-union-election
  9. “Forming a Union: FAQ.” Committee for Better Banks. Accessed January 15, 2024. https://betterbanks.org/organize/questions
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