Better Banking Blog
Press Release

Our Employees Joined Communication Workers of America Union

Mar 02, 2020

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Beneficial State Bank, a certified B Corp and mission-driven bank, supports national efforts to improve working conditions for bank employees

Oakland, CA, March 2, 2020--Today, Beneficial State Bank employees announced they will join the Communications Workers of America union--a historic step in Beneficial State Bank’s effort to fight economic imbalances rampant throughout the country’s financial system.

Beneficial State Bank has long supported unions as an important resource for employees and hopes this sets a strong example for the rest of the banking industry, which has little unionization and often pays workers very low wages.

“All too often the balance of power is tipped unfairly toward the employer, and, as we have seen time and time again, organizations that are primarily focused on maximizing shareholder value may pursue activities that are exploitative of people and natural resources,” said Randell Leach, Interim CEO of Beneficial State Bank. “Fighting these and other power imbalances in the economic system is why Beneficial State Bank exists.”

The Communication Workers of America (CWA) approached the bank in 2019 seeking to represent the employees of a responsible bank that is pursuing “high road” employment practices as a role model for other banks.

“Beneficial State Bank focuses on people, planet and profit, and that starts with our very own people,” Leach said. “CWA asked to approach our employees about the possibility of representing them and we welcomed the opportunity for our employees to self-determine if unionizing was right for them.”

The bank signed a neutrality agreement in support of the effort to ensure employees felt empowered to make an independent decision about joining the union.

Beneficial State Bank values its employees. It pays 150% of the living wage for all regions in which it operates and provides a comprehensive benefits package to every employee that exceeds the industry standard. These working conditions are a stark contrast to those found in the broader banking industry. Many banks pay below living wages, with one in three bank tellers on government assistance.

“After nearly two decades at big banks, I was proud to join Beneficial State Bank because of its commitment to invest in its communities,” said Desiree Jackson, an Assistant Vice President in Oakland, California and member of the Committee for Better Banks. “With this historic move to form a union, we’re seeing that commitment to community in action -- and I’m proud to be a part of it. All workers should have a voice on the job to advocate for themselves, their colleagues, and their customers. It’s the right and fair thing to do.”

In 2019, unionization rates among finance workers were among the lowest in the private sector, with only 1.1% of finance workers unionized.

“We’re a values-based bank,” said Kat Taylor, Board Chair and co-founder of Beneficial State Bank. “Our vision is to create a better banking system overall, with a mission of serving social justice and environmental well-being, as well as being financially sustainable. We’re excited to see our employees advance this effort by supporting a better employment standard for the banking industry.”

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About Beneficial State Bank

Beneficial State Bank (Beneficial State) is a state-chartered, federally insured bank with branches in California, Oregon, and Washington. Beneficial State serves the triple bottom line of people, planet, and prosperity for all, which involves serving its communities, supporting positive environmental outcomes, and achieving long-term financial sustainability. A unique ownership structure supports these strategic priorities: the bank’s capital is majority-owned by the nonprofit Beneficial State Foundation. This means its economic rights are fully aligned with, and permanently governed in, the public interest.

Beneficial State Bank is a founding signatory of the UN’s Principles for Responsible Banking, a member of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values, a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), Fossil Free Certified, and one of the world’s top-rated Certified B Corporations, awarded B Corp "Best for the World" status every year since 2013.

Media Contact:
EMC Communications
(650) 455-9928

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