Wells Fargo employees at two branches mount unionization campaign

(Reuters) -Wells Fargo employees at two of the bank’s branches filed for union elections on Monday, laying the groundwork for potential unionization in an industry that has largely been immune to such labor campaigns.

In a petition to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), bankers and tellers at Wells Fargo branches in Albuquerque, New Mexico and Bethel, Alaska declared their intent to join the Communications Workers of America’s Wells Fargo Workers United (WFWU).

Labor action in the United States has picked up pace this year, with unions confronting companies across industries like automotive, entertainment and aerospace.

Some, like the Detroit Three automakers, have also ceded ground to unions by agreeing to record pay hikes for employees.

That has boosted confidence among employees looking to mount similar challenges.

“While we are the first Wells Fargo workers to file for union elections, we will not be the last,” said Sabrina Perez, a senior premier banker at Wells Fargo’s Albuquerque branch.

Unionization efforts are rare in the financial sector, which is largely a white-collar industry underpinning the American economy.

Wells Fargo’s Saul Van Beurden, CEO of consumer, small and business banking, highlighted investments the lender had made for employees over the past four years, like increasing staffing levels and bumping up median base salaries.

“We have a deep commitment to invest in and support everyone who works at Wells Fargo … have significantly improved compensation and benefits for our lower paid employees in recent years,” he said.

The unionization plans were first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

(Reporting by Niket Nishant in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Shounak Dasgupta)