Bloomberg Law
May 23, 2023, 9:00 AM

Wells Fargo Faces Third Claim of Intimidating Union Organizers

Evan Weinberger
Evan Weinberger
Correspondent

A Wells Fargo & Co. call center worker is alleging that supervisors banned her from posting pro-union flyers in her cubicle and retaliated against her for the act.

Debbie Warren’s direct supervisor at the Hillsboro, Ore., call center also intimated that she could face penalties if she didn’t remove the materials, according to an unfair labor practice claim filed by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) on May 5 with the National Labor Relations Board.

Warren’s claim marks the third unfair labor practice claim against Wells Fargo, and the second at the Hillsboro site, as workers push to form the first-ever union at a giant US bank.

“I did feel intimidated and felt like if I did not conform to what they were telling me I had to do, I could lose my job or have other sanctions,” Warren said in a May 19 interview with Bloomberg Law.

Wells Fargo “interfered with, restrained, and coerced its employees” by setting work rules that prevent or discourage employees from forming, joining, or supporting a labor organization, the complaint said.

“We respect employees’ rights under the National Labor Relations Act and do not tolerate retaliation of any kind. We just received the complaint and are closely reviewing it,” the San Francisco-based bank said in a statement Monday.

The three claims against Wells Fargo show a “troubling pattern” of retaliation and intimidation against union organizers, said Nick Weiner, the organizing director for the Committee for Better Banks, an advocacy group that is helping to guide the Wells Fargo union campaign.

Wells Fargo settled one claim earlier this month involving a call center worker near Salt Lake City.

More than 730 Wells Fargo workers in 29 states are involved in the union campaign, looking to join the CWA.

Flyer Fight

Warren, an account resolution representative who’s worked at Wells Fargo for 15 years, started posting pro-union flyers on the outer wall of her cubicle earlier this year after they disappeared from another area at the office.

After being told to put the flyers at her desk, Warren said she posted them on the interior wall. After about a month, her supervisor said the flyers were solicitations and weren’t allowed in the building, Warren said.

The supervisor then warned that he would file a human resources complaint, Warren said.

Managers at the worksite have allowed pro-union flyers in break room tables and on cafe bulletin boards, as required under federal labor laws. Wells Fargo took a while in complying with that rule, Warren said.

Warren said she’s afraid of losing hybrid work privileges or her job over union activities. “That is a risk I’m willing to take,” she said.

Warren said in the interview she’s worried about the Hillsboro call center closing, a concern echoed by union organizers. The main building is now only a quarter to a third full, she said.

“We regularly review and adjust staffing levels to align with market conditions and the needs of our businesses,” Wells Fargo said Monday.

Disclosure: Bloomberg Law employees are represented by a CWA affiliate.

To contact the reporter on this story: Evan Weinberger in New York at eweinberger@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Smallberg at msmallberg@bloombergindustry.com; Roger Yu at ryu@bloomberglaw.com

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