Written by The Business Journal Staff
Bank workers at Beneficial State Bank will become the first in the nation to form a union.
In response to what a press release from the Communication Workers of America calls “systemic problems of discrimination, low-wages, extreme sales goals, and whistleblower retaliation” in the financial services industry as a whole, a majority of workers at the Oakland, California-based bank voted to join the union dubbed the Committee for Better Banks.
The 113 employees of Beneficial State Bank include bankers, consumer loan servicing representatives, loan processors, underwriters, file clerks and custodial staff.
Beneficial State Bank has offices throughout the West Coast, including locations in Visalia, Fresno, Porterville and Bakersfield. Fifty-one employees at these offices have joined the Committee for Better Banks.
“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 at Beneficial 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.”
By joining the union, members claim to better negotiate for increased labor standards and consumer protections in the industry “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 press release stated.
The unionization will be the first bankers’ union in the United States in over 40 years, according to the press release. Globally, 3 million bank workers belong to a union, while “almost no” bank workers in the United States are.
While the union organized, Beneficial State Bank agreed to remain neutral.
“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.”