89.9 FM Live From The University Of New Mexico
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Wells Fargo branch employees win first ever union election

Taylor Velazquez

Bankers at a Wells Fargo branch in Albuquerque have voted to form a union. This is not only the first Wells Fargo bank to unionize, but also the first victory at any major baking organization.

Wells Fargo bank has dealt with major scandals in the past few years as it was found to have pressured employees to open unauthorized accounts for clients and another lawsuit alleging routine overtime pay violations.

Bankers alongside the National Labor Relations Board have won an unprecedented fight in the financial industry that they say will allow for better working conditions such as overtime pay and dealing with staffing shortages from the pandemic.

"This has the capacity to send ripples through the financial industry. And I think that Charlie Scharf’s peers and the other CEOs are watching this very closely because they know that for a long time the financial industry has gotten away with treating their employees poorly" said Perez.

That’s Sabrina Perez, a banker at Wells Fargo for wealthy clients. Charlie Scharf is CEO of the bank. Perez said the vote was intense but the win was a relief, especially as the campaign against union efforts from Wells Fargo was aggressive.

A similar vote scheduled to take place Thursday in Alaska stalled after workers withdrew their petition to form a union. That’s according to Bloomberg Law, which also reported a vote at a Daytona Beach, Florida, Wells Fargo branch is slated for January.

The next step in Albuquerque is contract negotiations, which Perez says can take some time, but she adds that now there will be voices at the table to move the bank away from corporate strategies / that often leave out the middle class.

"We’re looking to keep that community in community banking and this is one tool for us to do so" Perez said.

In a statement Wells Fargo wrote “We respect our employees’ rights to vote for union representation. At the same time, we continue to believe our employees are best served by working directly with the company and its leadership”.

This coverage is made possible by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and KUNM listeners.

Taylor is a reporter with our Poverty and Public Health project. She is a lover of books and a proud dog mom. She's been published in Albuquerque The Magazine several times and enjoys writing about politics and travel.