This week, trade unions, members of U.S. Congress, and workers called on banking giant Wells Fargo to end persistent discriminatory and predatory practices. After a 2016 scandal involving unattainable sales targets and fake accounts, Wells Fargo has told lawmakers that it is moving away from its history of consumer abuse.
But current and former workers tell a different tale.
In the days before Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan testified before Congress, a report by the Committee for Better Banks (CBB) showed new sales incentives have merely replaced the unattainable quotas that led to the scandal in the first place.
“Companies like Wells Fargo have proven time and time again that they cannot be trusted to police themselves,” said UNI General Secretary Christy Hoffman. “The Better Banks Campaign report shows how important it is for workers to be able to report wrongdoing without fear of retaliation and to have a real voice on the job.”
“Workers play a big role in reforming the banking industry. Other major financial institutions have signed global agreements with UNI that have real commitments to ensuring ethical sales practices and workers’ rights. It’s clearly time for Wells Fargo to do the same.”
CEO Sloan was scheduled to testify on Tuesday, March 12. On the Saturday before, the New York Times published a feature showing that the relentless pressure and profit-at-all-costs culture that led to Wells’ original sin — the fake accounts — hasn’t changed. That was backed up by a thorough report from the Los Angeles Times.
The CBB-organized event on Tuesday morning, hours before Sloan’s testimony, featuring Wells Fargo workers along with Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Jesús G. “Chuy” García, CWA President Chris Shelton, and Americans for Financial Reform’s Lisa Donner. Sloan’s hearing before the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday can be seen in full here.
The critique of Sloan and Wells Fargo’s practices was widespread in the committee but members of Congress weren’t there only critics. There was later some withering commentary on Sloan’s performance.
Almost immediately after the hearing, several Wells Fargo departments said they were suspending the unfair practices that were the subject to this week’s hearing—a major victory for those workers. However, the bank is not off the hook.
The Committee for Better Banks will continue to push Wells Fargo to make these changes bank-wide and respect the voices and the rights of bank employees.