Bloomberg Law
Free Newsletter Sign Up
Login
BROWSE
Bloomberg Law
Welcome
Login
Advanced Search Go
Free Newsletter Sign Up

Wells Fargo Faces Unfair Labor Practice Claims Amid Union Drive (1)

Nov. 7, 2022, 7:17 PMUpdated: Nov. 7, 2022, 7:50 PM

The Communications Workers of America, one of the largest unions in the US, filed a pair of unfair labor practices charges against Wells Fargo & Co. accusing the banking giant of attempted intimidation and coercion of workers trying to unionize call center employees.

Details of the Monday filings with National Labor Relations Board weren’t publicly available. But the filings made with the NLRB regional offices in Portland, Ore., and Denver alleged that Wells Fargo managers retaliated against a worker at a Salt Lake City-area call center and a Hillsboro, Ore., call center employee team that raised concerns about role changes, according to a source with knowledge of the charges.

Wells Fargo declined to comment.

Regional NLRB staffers will investigate the charges and officials will issue complaints against Wells Fargo if the union’s allegations have merit.

The accusation involving the Salt Lake City-area employee is related to the manager’s threats to revoke the worker’s ability to work from home on a hybrid schedule if he continued to pass out pro-union flyers, the source said.

Workers at the Hillsboro facility in a customer complaint department claimed that they were given extra work when they complained about not getting raises after they were transferred to a new unit that handles mediation related to Wells Fargo’s fake account scandal, the source said. A job posting for the mediation unit showed that workers in that unit earned $5 more per hour than those in the complaint department, the source said.

The two new charges follow a June charge filed against Wells Fargo in the NLRB’s Minneapolis office. Those allegations include retaliation and coercion against union organizers, according to the NLRB’s website.

Wells Fargo workers announced their union drive in fall 2021, arguing that workers would’ve been able to stop the fake account and other scandals if they had been union-protected. Bank employees have said they set up consumer fake accounts because they faced “inhumane” sales goals, according to a letter posted to Wells Fargo Workers United’s website.

“We are organizing a union to build a better Wells Fargo for workers and customers, yet the bank continues to try to resist change,” according to a statement Monday by Wells Fargo Workers United. “Rather than join us in our efforts to address the toxic culture that has led to scandal after scandal and cost the bank billions of dollars in fines, Wells Fargo has chosen to break the law by attempting to silence us.”

The Wells Fargo union intends to be a part of the CWA.

The unionization effort so far is focused on tellers, loan underwriters, account resolution specialists, wealth management advisers, call center workers, information technology specialists, and anti-fraud specialists. Organizers say as many as 150,000 Wells Fargo employees could ultimately be eligible to join the union.

Democratic lawmakers, including Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), pressed Wells Fargo CEO Charles Scharf on whether the bank would stay neutral on the unionization effort.

“We believe that we should have a direct relationship with our employees. No,” Scharf told Brown at a Sept. 22 Senate Banking Committee hearing.

Pressley asked if any workers would face retaliation for unionization efforts.

“We will follow the law,” Scharf said.

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

—With assistance from Robert Iafolla

(Updated third paragraph with Wells Fargo's reply for a request for comment)

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

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Roger Yu at ryu@bloomberglaw.com; Laura D. Francis at lfrancis@bloomberglaw.com