Bank employees secure rare union contract

Last month, workers at Beneficial State Bank ratified their first union contract, an agreement with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 7901 and Local 9412. The contract covers 96 workers at 13 bank branches in Oregon, California and Washington, including bankers, consumer loan servicing representatives, loan processors, underwriters, file clerks and custodial staff.

CWA District 4 Administrative Director Frank Mathews joined the America’s Work Force Union Podcast to discuss what he thinks this contract means for the banking industry and why he thinks it could have a domino effect across the country.

He also spoke about California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s veto of S.B. 556, and explained language in the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill that includes provisions of the Rich Trumka PRO Act.

Union contract ratification a big win for bank employees

On Sept. 26, Beneficial State Bank employees ratified their first union contract, which includes a minimum hourly wage of $20.50 and bumps up to $22.25 in 2023, with even higher minimums in high-cost areas like Oakland, where the wage will be $28.60. Employees will also receive a $1,000 ratification bonus, at least two weeks of annual paid vacation and up to 12 days paid sick leave annually. They will also see an increased 401(k) match to 5 percent of their salary, up from 4 percent. There is also a “just cause” standard for discipline, and a grievance process workers can use to contest wrongful discipline.

The ratification of the contract is a huge victory for bank employees, as it has been decades since there has been any substantial union organization in the banking industry, Mathews said. Unions are rare in the banking industry. Banks make billions of dollars, and it is only right they share those profits with their employees.

Mathews expects the success of the CWA and bank employees to have a domino effect that will spread to other banks across the country.

Gov. Newsom’s S.B. 556 veto could impact broadband infrastructure

Gov. Newsom vetoed S.B. 556, which would have restricted the ability of local governments and publicly-owned electric utilities to regulate placement of small cellular wireless facilities on public infrastructure and limit the compensation that may be collected by local governments. Mathews said the veto will help prevent non-union contractors from building public utility infrastructure.

He also discussed language in the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill that includes provisions of the Rich Trumka PRO Act, including stiffer financial penalties for companies who violate labor law.


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