Wells Fargo employees push for unionization amid wage and work condition concerns

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Wells Fargo employees push for unionization amid wage and work condition concerns

ALBUQUERQUE/BETHEL - Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC ) branches in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Bethel, Alaska, are moving forward with historic union elections as part of the Wells Fargo Workers Union (WFWU), affiliated with the Communications Workers of America (CWA). This move comes on the heels of a push for better representation spurred by the Committee for Better Banks' revelations of corporate wrongdoing since 2016.

Employees at both locations have voiced their grievances, highlighting a disconnect between the bank's profitability and the financial struggles faced by its workers. In Albuquerque, Sabrina Perez has been vocal about the toxic work environment and is advocating for worker dignity through union organization, with a significant number of workers showing support. Meanwhile, in Bethel, bank teller Jewel Tootkaylok is campaigning for improved pay and separate sick leave entitlements. Despite earning an unchanged hourly wage of $31.50 since 2016 amidst escalating living costs, her efforts reflect the broader challenges facing the five-member team at her branch. These challenges were compounded after a crucial commercial banking role was eliminated in 2020, impacting service to the Y-K Delta's communities and tribes.

The broader context of these local efforts includes global support from Angelo Di Cristo of UNI Global Union, who has expressed international solidarity to bolster banking employees' voices through collective global union backing. Wells Fargo is currently dealing with allegations of punitive actions against union advocates.

In addition to internal strife over unionization, external factors such as infrastructure vulnerabilities have come to light. The severance of a Quintillion undersea cable in the summer of 2023 highlighted the precarious nature of internet-based banking services in Alaska's remote regions.

Despite these ongoing issues, Wells Fargo CEO Sal Van Beurden has reported increased pay and enhanced benefits but has yet to directly address the unionization actions. However, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has previously ruled against Wells Fargo for illegal anti-union practices found in branches within Utah and Oregon.

As workers in Albuquerque and Bethel continue their push for union representation, they seek to bring attention to wage disparities and working conditions that affect not only their livelihoods but also the quality of service provided to their communities.

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