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It's out of the frying pan and into the fire for Wells Fargo... again.

According to internal documents reported by Bloomberg on Monday, the top dogs at the major bank -- which ended up making lemonade out of last month's banking run lemons -- are growing increasingly spooked over yet another looming existential crisis: organized labor.

State of the Union(s)

From Apple and Amazon to Chipotle and Starbucks, union drives have been in 5th gear at some of America's biggest companies. According to Wells Fargo's own research, it's a bona fide nationwide trend: "Employers are facing a significant resurgence in union organizing with election petitions increasing by nearly 60% in 2022," read one slide in a PowerPoint presentation given by HR staffers to Wells Fargo executives seen by Bloomberg.

That same slideshow warned of "an increase in organizing activity" among Wells Fargo workers with the Communications Workers of America, a union that has long worked on adding tellers and personal bankers to its ranks of some 700,000 tech, telecom, and media laborers. The SF-based lender has now entered into something of a Cold War with the CWA:

  • Having calculated the extra expense of a unionized workforce, according to Bloomberg, Wells Fargo's upper brass have sketched out plans to pre-empt unionizing activity by dropping hundreds of millions of dollars on addressing employee "pain points," like pay and health benefits.
  • The CWA, meanwhile, has argued that the benefits of a unionized workforce at Wells Fargo would trickle down to an unexpected third party: customers. The bank is already embroiled in headline-grabbing customer-abuse scandals, and pro-union sentiment has been "most active" in the branch banking, operations, and home lending divisions.

A successful union drive would be CWA's biggest win in the banking sector, but not its first. The labor group already represents some 125 employees at two credit unions as well as at Oakland-based community lender Beneficial State Bank.

Scooped: Wells Fargo isn't the only company squaring off with labor organizers for the first time this week. Also on Monday, workers at Ben & Jerry's flagship store in Burlington, Vermont filed for a union election with the backing of Workers United, the same union that won elections at hundreds of Starbucks locations. As one of the oldest sayings in materialist theory goes, "Before men can do anything else... they must first produce the means of their subsistence." In this case, subsistence means a pint of Chunky Monkey.