A sea of purple washed through downtown Albany at noon on Friday, Aug. 3, as members of SEIU Local 503 marched and rallied outside local branches of Verizon Communications and Wells Fargo to call attention to bad corporate behavior. Hundreds of statewide delegates were in Albany for their biennial General Council, the top decision-making body for Oregon’s largest union.
“Banks got bailed out; we got sold out,” they chanted outside the Wells Fargo office, while across the highway could be heard, “Hey, Verizon, you can’t hide; we can see your greedy side.” Dozens of signs were waving around supporting Measure 85 (the initiative on the November ballot which would divert so-called “kicker” refunds away from corporations to K-12 schools), along with signs of support for Oregon teachers and the 99%.
SEIU 503 members targeted Verizon management for refusing to constructively negotiate with representatives of its 45,000 employees who are members of the Communication Workers of America/International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
The parties have recently been in negotiations led by a federal mediator, with sessions scheduled to resume on Monday, Aug. 6. For more information on the negotiations and to send a message of solidarity, see www.cwa-union.org.
Wells Fargo has been accused of blatant discrimination against African-American and Latino borrowers and just agreed to a related $175-million settlement with the U.S. Justice Department. The company has denied the claims.
Wells Fargo’s customer service record is one of the worst in the banking industry, with lawsuits increasingly piling up over illegal foreclosures and fee practices. The Federal Reserve Board recently hit the company with a record $85-million civil fine for steering borrowers into subprime loans and falsifying information on loan applications.
Additionally, Wells Fargo, which received a $37-billion taxpayer bailout, has billions in foreclosed homes on its books yet has provided little help to keep struggling borrowers in their homes. The company is also heavily involved in the payday lending business and led the banking industry in lobbying expenses last year. For more on Wells Fargo, see www.cbsnews.com/8301-505123_