A group of local unions and their allies launched a new campaign against U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo, demanding that they pay a $15 minimum wage to tellers and the janitors who clean their offices and work harder to move more minorities into management.
The group, backed by SEIU Local 26, the St. Paul Federation of Teachers and Minnesotans for a Fair Economy, among others, issued the first of what they promise will be a series of reports under the title, "Inside the Vault: Exposing how U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo Harm Minnesota Communities."
The first report, citing GlassDoor.com, says that Wells Fargo tellers earn an average of $11.81 per hour and that U.S. Bank tellers earn an average of $11.60 per hour. Both wages, the group contends, are below average for tellers nationally and force a significant percentage of bank tellers to rely on some form of public assistance to make ends meet.
The report identifies a disparity in the percentage of tellers who are people of color compared with the percentage of company leadership who are people of color, and it highlights the low wages of janitors and security guards who work for subcontractors hired by the banks.
The campaign also directly attacks the compensation of CEO Richard Davis of U.S. Bank and CEO John Stumpf of Wells Fargo, who each earned about $20 million last year.
SEIU Local 26 and its president, Javier Morillo, have distinguished themselves as the most aggressive, persistent local critics of the banks. Davis, who enjoys mostly praise and admiration from the local business community, came under fire during the financial crisis from the group and its allies. Also, Davis and Jon Campbell, a senior Wells Fargo executive in Minnesota, both were sharply criticized for their roles in labor negotiations at the Minnesota Orchestra two years ago. Campbell was chairman of the orchestra at the time and Davis was a past chairman.
The new report's key point is an appeal to the banks to establish a minimum wage of $15 per hour.
Wells Fargo employees are all paid well above federal minimums, said John Hobot, a spokesman for the company. About 40,000 people who work for the bank received a salary increase due to promotion last year and 60 percent of the bank's noninterest expenses — about $30 billion in 2014 — are pay and benefits.
"More important, a third of our Twin Cities-area bank managers are people of color. That's exciting for our business," Hobot said. "Wells Fargo is proud of its record of being a great place to work for our team members, which includes market competitive compensation that combines base pay with a broad array of benefits and career-development opportunities."
U.S. Bank spokesman Dana Ripley said: "U.S. Bank is proud to be one of the most attractive places to build a career in the Twin Cities and across the country. We offer fair and competitive wages in all of our markets, achievable advancement opportunities, affordable health care options, and comprehensive retirement benefits, including a 401(k) and pension plan."
Other organizations backing the new report about the banks include Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, 15 Now Minnesota, Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha (CTUL), Communications Workers of America, ISAIAH and MN 350.
Adam Belz • 612-673-4405 Twitter: @adambelz