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Sep 22, 2016 - Wells Fargo Blames Low Wage Workers for Sales Fraud

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U.S. Senate Banking Committee Grills Wells Fargo CEO on Damaging Sales Practices

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U.S. Senators from both political parties strongly criticized Wells Fargo's damaging sales practices and grilled the bank's CEO John Stumpf in a Capitol Hill hearing on Tuesday. The hearing was called after Wells Fargo was fined $185 million by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and other agencies for opening fraudulent, unwanted bank accounts for customers. Wells Fargo fired and blamed 5,500 bank workers earning $11-15 an hour, while the top executive in charge of sales left with a payment of $120 million.

The Committee for Better Banks, a coalition formed by CWA, bank workers, and other community and consumer advocates, held a call before the hearing to show that the Wells Fargo scandal is only the tip of the iceberg, and that big banks' unreasonable sales quotas are harming both consumers and frontline bank workers.

Julie Miller, a former Wells Fargo branch manager in Allentown, Pa., said on the call, "When Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf blames the frontline workers for the unauthorized accounts, I am disgusted. I saw firsthand how the sales goals structure and the pressure to 'sell at all costs' came from upper level, corporate executives. Corporate executives designed the sales quota systems and created the culture of harassment and fear when we did not meet them."

Khalid Taha, a former Wells Fargo personal banker in San Diego, Ca., said, "The branch where I worked was structured in such a way that we had to meet sales quotas every day. If I did not meet my sales goals, I could get written up and risked being fired. This kind of pressure meant we had to prioritize selling products, rather than just focusing on what best matched our customers' needs."

At the hearing, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Ma.) lambasted Stumpf for blaming low-paid bank workers. "You kept your job, you kept your multi-million dollar bonuses, and you went on television to blame thousands of $12-an-hour employees who were just trying to meet cross-sell quotas that made you rich. You should resign, you should give back the money that you took while this scam was going on, and you should be criminally investigated."

Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said, "Wells Fargo is taking out full-page ads claiming it is accountable and accepts responsibility. But it has not admitted to responsibility for a single misdeed, and it has been hostile to customers who are facing this issue."

Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) told Stumpf that 5,300 bank workers had been fired "because of the culture you established. This was a systemic problem that you benefited from enormously, that the bank benefited from enormously, and you are scapegoating the people at the very bottom. Accepting full responsibility for establishing a culture that put people in an impossible situation would be to resign, return your funds, and help fund assistance for fired employees."

Read more about the Committee for Better Banks and get involved here.

Khalid Taha, a former Wells Fargo bank worker, tells his story to the New York Times.

CWA Women for Political Power on the Ground in 20 States

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"CWA Women for Political Power" is a new program mobilizing CWAers to support candidates who will adopt policies important to working women.

CWA District 4 Vice President Linda Hinton is leading the program, with support from women members of the CWA Executive Board, the National Women's Committee, and CWA's Legislative and Human Rights Departments.

The program is up and running in 20 states. CWA women activists will leaflet worksites and mobilize CWA women, with the goals of electing Hillary Clinton to be the first female president of the United States and spotlighting the power of women workers to move the country forward on issues like paid sick leave, fair pay, and others.

"We're energizing CWA women across our union to show that we can make progressive change at every level of government," said Hinton. "CWA women are leading the way when it comes to fighting for the issues that working women care about."

Learn more here.

Bargaining Update

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NABET-CWA opened negotiations with ABC/Disney on Sept. 20 for a new master agreement.

CWA President Chris Shelton joined NABET-CWA President Charlie Braico and the union's Network Negotiating Committee at the opening session and pledged the support of all CWA members and retirees in this fair contract fight. Charlie Braico reminded management that union members at Disney/ABC were united in their proposals for a fair contract and would be mobilizing to make that a reality.

The contract covers nearly 3,000 NABET-CWA members who are staff and daily hires at the ABC Television Network and four ABC-owned television stations in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

The NABET-CWA bargaining committee includes: Local 51016 President Arthur Mazzacca; Local 59051 President Kevin Wilson; Local 52031 Treasurer Maurice Thomas, and RVP-4 Don Farnham.

The NABET-CWA bargaining committee opened negotiations with ABC/Disney on Sept. 20 for a new master agreement.


Omni Air

AFA-CWA and Omni Air International Flight Attendants reached a tentative agreement for a first contract today with the assistance of the National Mediation Board. The details of the agreement are being released first to the more than 300 Omni Air Flight Attendants.

"Omni Air Flight Attendants have worked long and hard to achieve a first contract. Negotiations began with our successful organizing campaign in 2011. This agreement will make a real difference for Omni Air Flight Attendants and their families, and provides a solid foundation for future negotiations. By standing together, we were able to achieve a good first contract and a first step in recognizing the substantial contributions of Flight Attendants to the airline," said Hamilton Kaopua, AFA-CWA president at Omni Air International.

Based in Tulsa, Okla., Omni operates international and domestic passenger charters and provides cargo and troop airlift for the U.S. military.


AT&T West

CWAers from several northern California locals leafleted outside AT&T Park as the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers went head-to-head on Monday night. CWA District 9 Vice President Tom Runnion joined members of CWA Locals 9400, 9404, 9410, 9412, 9415, 9421 and 9423 at the action.

They informed fans attending the game that while AT&T revenues are growing and the company's CEO makes a whopping $11,530 per hour, executives want big cuts from workers, including shifting more health care costs to workers, slashing benefits, and cutting wages for high-skilled work.

CWAers taking a stand against AT&T's demands for cuts in benefits and working conditions.

Political Action Update

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First Presidential Debate

The first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will be held Monday, September 26, 2016, at Hofstra University in New York at 9 p.m., Eastern.

It will air live on many broadcast and cable networks, including ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, PBS, C-SPAN, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. It will also be streamed live on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.


Make Sure You’re Ready to Vote

Are you registered to vote? Are you sure? National Voter Registration Day is Tuesday, Sept. 27, and it's a great time to make sure you're all set to go to the polls.

If you aren't sure if you are registered to vote at your current address, click here to check. If you are not registered to vote you don't have to wait until Tuesday, click here to register now. Let's make sure our voices are heard not only in the workplace but at the voting booth too!

CWA N.J. Local Government Stewards Meet for Mobilization Training

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More than 40 CWA members, government workers in New Jersey, met for shop stewards' training.

Last week, more than 40 CWA members participated in shop stewards' training on mobilizing around workplace issues. The training brought together county and municipal government workers in New Jersey, members of CWA Locals 1045, 1077, 1080, 1082, 1088, and 1089.

Workshops covered the procedure, problem solving through mobilization and the role of a shop steward. Stewards are on the front line of the fight for dignity and respect, and are the key to mobilizing fellow members and co-workers to take collective action and build power in the workplace.

Mark Your Calendar: CWA Customer Service Professionals Conference

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CWA's Customer Service Professionals Conference is set for Oct. 16-18 in Pittsburgh, Pa. Among discussion topics: organizing and bargaining in the industry and the specific issues customer service professionals face on the job each day.

Click here to register and for more information.

TPP Update

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When the "Rock Against the TPP" tour hits Boston, Mass., on October 7, IUE-CWA member Adam Kaz will be part of the show. Kaz sings with Tigerman Woah, one of the bands playing at the Boston concert.

"Rock Against the TPP" has featured great musicians and concerts, rallies, and teach-ins about the toxic TPP trade deal. It was organized by the digital nonprofit group Fight for the Future, with support from CWA and other allies.

Check out this video from the San Francisco event.

Read more here.