For the first time in decades, bank workers in the United States have formed a union.
The Communications Workers of America (CWA) announced yesterday that a majority of employees at Beneficial State Bank in California successfully won union rights.
“After nearly two decades at big banks, I was proud to join Beneficial State Bank because of its commitment to invest in its communities,” said Desiree Jackson, an Assistant Vice President in Oakland, California and member of the Committee for Better Banks. “With this historic move to form a union, we’re seeing that commitment to community in action — and I’m proud to be a part of it. All workers should have a voice on the job to advocate for themselves, their colleagues, and their customers. It’s the right, and fair thing to do.”
One hundred thirteen Beneficial State Bank employees will join the Communications Workers of America, a coalition member in the Committee for Better Banks — gaining them a voice on the job and crucial tools to speak out for better working conditions, higher wages, and protection from retaliation.
Employees across the U.S. banking industry, from bank tellers to call centre workers, have joined the Committee for Better Banks to demand better labor standards and consumer protections to avoid the disastrous 2008 financial crisis and the 2016 fraudulent accounts scandal at Wells Fargo, which Wells Fargo employees in the Committee exposed.
The U.S. financial services industry, which is plagued by systemic problems of discrimination, low-wages, extreme sales goals, and whistle-blower retaliation, has the country’s lowest percentage of union representation.
“Beneficial State Bank is setting a precedent today for the entire banking industry—and we’ll keep organizing workers across the industry to push for this systemic change,” said Communications Workers of America Organizing Coordinator Erin Mahoney.”
“All too often the balance of power is tipped unfairly toward the employer, and, as we have seen time and time again, organizations that are primarily focused on maximizing shareholder value may pursue activities that are exploitative of people and natural resources,” said Randell Leach, Interim CEO of Beneficial State Bank. “Fighting these and other power imbalances in the economic system is why Beneficial State Bank exists.”
Prior to the organizing efforts that began in December, Beneficial State Bank agreed to remain neutral during the card check process, and recognize workers’ right to form a union.
“Throughout Europe, Asia, South America, and Africa, bank workers are able to join and form unions without the harassment and intimidation they find in the United States,” said Rita Berlofa, President of Finance at UNI Global Union. “This victory for Beneficial State Bank is inspiring for finance workers globally. It strengthens workers’ voice in the sector and is a turning point for the industry in the United States.”