Farmworkers fired in Washington; seek justice

Farmworkers in Sumas, Washington attended a mass on Sunday to honor and say farewell to Honesto Silva Ibarra, who died a little more than a week ago after complaining to his employer that he was too sick to work.

Silva and his comrades are from Mexico. For most of the summer, they were picking blueberries at Sarbanand Farms near Sumas, which is close to the Canadian border.

They were working in the US on H-2A temporary work visas for agriculture.

When word got out on August 4 that Silva had been hospitalized, about 70 of the farm’s workers walked off the job to inquire about Silva’s health status and to complain about their unbearable working conditions.

The day after their inquiry, Sarbanand Farms fired the workers. A day after that, the workers learned that Silva had died.

The workers who inquired about Silva remain in limbo, stuck in a makeshift camp on land owned by a sympathetic couple who have given the farmworkers refuge.

Rosalinda Guillen, director of Community to Community Development, a group supporting the farmworkers, laid some of the blame for the farmworkers plight on the flawed H-2A Visa program, which gives employers nearly total control over their workers.

“The problem has always been that farmworkers are afraid to complain,” said Guillen to KUOW, a public radio station. “They can’t strike, they can’t form a union, they have nobody to complain to, they have no family, no community connections. No way to exert what little rights they have in the H-2A program.”

Sarbanand Farms brought 600 farmworkers from Mexico to Washington for the berry picking season.

For all practical purposes, these workers have few if any remedies addressing problems on the job.

They can’t quit and look for another job. Their circumstances make it difficult for them to form unions. And if they speak up collectively and get fired for doing so, they have few if any legal rights.

The circumstances involving Silva’s death are in dispute. According to the company that operates Sarbanand Farms, when Silva, complained about not feeling well, the company arranged for an ambulance to take him to a nearby medical clinic.

Farmworkers tell a different story. Silva, according to several accounts, complained of severe headaches to a supervisor, who ignored his complaints and ordered him back to work.

What is indisputable is that Silva, who is diabetic, died of cardiac arrest on August 6 in a Seattle hospital after being transferred from the clinic where he first sought treatment.

The Washington Labor and Industries Department and US Labor Department are currently conducting an investigation to determine if conditions on the job contributed to Silva’s death.

Conditions in the field where Silva worked were unquestionably difficult. The weather was unusually hot and smoke from a wildfire in Canada had drifted down to Washington causing an air quality alert.

After Silva became ill, the workers who walked off the job to inquire about their friend complained to company management that there wasn’t enough drinking water in the field.

They also complained about their food. They paid $12 a day for food, but their portions were skimpy and the quality was bad.

A report by the Stranger has a picture of  what a typical meal at the Sarbanand farm looks like.

Finally, the workers complained that some of their visas had expired, which made it impossible for them to return home if they didn’t like their working conditions.

Under the H-2A program, employers are responsible for keeping their workers visas up to date, and many of the workers at the farm were working under expired visas.

Instead of considering the merits of these grievances, Sarbanand summarily fired the workers and wouldn’t pay them for the work they had already done.

A few days after being fired, the workers and their supporters marched to the Sarbanand offices to demand that the company pay them.

The company, which originally said that it had mailed the workers final paycheck to Mexico, finally agreed to pay the workers the money owed them.

During this time, the workers have been living under difficult circumstances. People have donated food, tents, and other necessities to sustain them.

Some of the workers would like to get their jobs back or to go to work on other farms. Some want to return to Mexico.

Earlier this week, 25 workers did return to Mexico at the expense of the company, which is required to provide transportation to and from the workers’ country of origin.

Cristo Rodriguez is one of those who is staying in hopes that he and the other farmworkers can get justice.

Rodriguez told the Bellingham Herald through an interpreter that he had thought about returning home after learning of death of his father-in-law but has decided to stay.

“My first reaction was that I have to leave and be with (my family). It was sad to hear (my wife) talk, because I could feel what she was going through,” said Rodriguez. “But then, if I take off, I don’t know if we would be able to resolve anything (at the Sarbanand Farm).”

Kansas City voters overwhelmingly approve minimum wage increase

Voters in Kansas City, Missouri recently voted to increase the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022.

In a referendum on new city-wide minimum wage, 68 percent of the voters supported increasing the minimum wage to $10 an hour immediately and then beginning in 2019 raising the minimum wage each year by $1.25 an hour until it reaches $15 an hour in 2022.

Voters voted overwhelmingly to support the new minimum wage despite a new state law passed in May that prohibits cities and other local governments from enacting local minimum wages that exceed the state minimum wage, currently set at $7.70 an hour.

The state law, which Missouri Gov. Eric Greiten allowed to go into effect, becomes effective on August 28.

In the meantime, Missouri unions announced that they will begin a campaign to raise the state minimum wage to $12 an hour.

After the result of the Kansas City minimum wage vote was announced, Rev. Vernon Percy Howard, president of the Greater Kansas City Southern Christian Leadership Conference ( SCLC), praised voters for the landslide victory.

“We are so pleased that Kansas City has demonstrated a progressive political perspective on tone and attitude on this issue,” said Howard to CNN Money. “Our brothers and sisters deserve human dignity.”

Howard also said that the vote reflects a growing concern among a broad section of the population about income inequality.

“Income inequality was and is a major issue in Kansas City and across this country,” said Rev. Howard. “We want to thank all those individuals who voted but are not low-wage workers for being people of good will.”

SCLC was one of the groups that came together to form KC for $15, the coalition that led the effort to pass initiative #3, the minimum wage increase initiative on the ballot.

Some in the media called the vote on initiative #3 a symbolic gesture because the state law nullifying local minimum wage ordinances will go into effect soon.

Howard, however, said that the vote was more than empty symbolism and that he had serious doubts about the constitutionality of the state law. Howard said that he foresees a legal challenge to the law.

Other groups that have been working to raise the minimum wage said that the Kansas City vote was an important victory but that much more work needs to be done in order to raise the minimum wage.

The Kansas City vote to raise the minimum wage give us “cause to celebrate,” reads a posting on the Stand Up KC Facebook page. “But we won’t see a penny of it because the legislature passed a bill taking away the right of voters and cities to raise wages above $7.70. Tonight is a time to be proud of our city and angry at our legislator. We will continue to fight.”

On the day before the Kansas City vote on initiative #3 took place, Stand Up KC joined Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1 Missouri, the Missouri AFL-CIO, and Missouri Jobs with Justice in announcing the start of a campaign to raise the state minimum wage to $12 an hour.

After making their announcement, members of the coalition began gathering signatures on a petition to put the new minimum wage proposal on the state ballot for the 2018 elections.

To do so, they will need to collect more than 100,000 valid signatures on their petition.

“This campaign takes the power out of Jefferson City (Missouri’s capital city) and gives it back to the people where it belongs,’ said Richard Franklin, a janitor and SEIU member. It’s up to us, the people, to take matters into our own hands.”

In a related development, Mike  Louis, president of the Missouri AFL-CIO announced on August 11 that unions had gathered more than 300,000 signatures on a petition to put an initiative that would veto the state’s new right to work law before the voters.

The petition will be delivered on August 14 to the Missouri Secretary of State for validation.

If there are 100,126 or more valid signatures on the petition, the initiative will be added to the November 2018 ballot, and implementation of the right to work law will be delayed until after the vote.

Texas public employee unions under attack, launch fight back

Texas is the latest state where Republicans are trying to stifle the voices of public employees.

When Gov. Greg Abbott announced that he was calling a special session of the state legislature, he presented a 19-item agenda that included a ban on voluntary payroll deduction of public employee union dues.

Those affected would be teachers, public school employees, and state and local government employees. Police officers and firefighters are exempt.

The purpose of the bill is to weaken public employee unions by reducing their funding. If Abbott’s ban passes, unions will have fewer resources resulting in a weaker collective voice for public employees.

“Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, want to make it harder for public workers to have a strong, effective union,” said the Texas State Employee Union CWA Local 6186 in a statement about the proposed bans. “They know that without a strong union of state workers and retirees standing up to them, state services will be left unprotected against privatization efforts and our pensions will be vulnerable to attacks.”

When the special session began on July 18, two lawmakers filed companion bills,  SB 7 and HB 156, that seek to ban voluntary payroll deduction.

Those bills are similar to two bills that became law in two Republican dominated states.

Republicans in Oklahoma passed a ban that targeted public school teachers in 2015, and Republicans in Michigan in 2012 passed  a ban that targeted public employees and public school teachers.

The discourse about the ban has been dominated by right wing talking points, much of which is inaccurate.

For example, when Gov. Abbott announced that he was adding the ban on voluntary payroll deductions to the special session’s agenda, he said that the ban would save taxpayers from paying for payroll deduction.

In fact, voluntary payroll deduction costs taxpayers nothing.

The Texas Government code clearly states that employees and their organization are the ones who bear the cost of voluntary payroll deduction.

Also a fiscal note for SB 7 stated that the ban would have no financial impact on the state or local governments.

In other words, the ban won’t save the state, local governments, or school districts any money because voluntary payroll deduction isn’t costing them any money.

In another instance, the executive vice president of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a right wing advocacy group, wrote in the Dallas Morning News that the ban would stop “the state from automatically collecting membership dues for government-employee labor unions.”

The fact is that in Texas there is no such thing as automatic dues collection for state employees. To enroll in payroll deduction, a state employee must complete and sign a payroll deduction authorization form before payroll deduction begins.

An employee is free to discontinue payroll deduction at any time.

The author also incorrectly describes payroll deduction as an opt out choice for an employee. In other words according to the author, union dues are automatically deducted unless an employee opts out of payroll deduction.

Once again, the author is incorrect. Payroll deduction doesn’t begin automatically. It is an opt in, not an opt out choice.

 

The author also blames voluntary payroll deductions for high  local property taxes.

It’s true that local property taxes in Texas are too high, but it’s not because of voluntary payroll deduction or teachers’ unions. It’s because the state has been shirking its responsibility to provide an equal public education to all students.

“It’s indisputable that we’re funding education at the lowest level the state’s ever funded it before and we’re doing it on the back of the taxpayers,” said Republican lawmaker Dan Huberty to the Austin American Statesman during the special session.

Despite the weak evidence about the need for a ban on voluntary payroll deduction, SB 7 passed out of the Senate within 10 days after the session began.

But it met a lot of resistance from employees affected by the ban.

At a hearing on the bill conducted by the Senate Business and Commerce Committee, more than 130 people either testified against SB 7 or came to the committee hearing and signed a form indicating their opposition.

Among those testifying against the bill, were representatives of public safety unions that will be exempt from the ban. They worried that the ban will be extended to them at some time in the future.

The fight to stop the ban now goes to the House of Representatives.

Teachers and public employees have been organizing to mobilize opposition to the bill in the House.

The House version of SB 7, HB 156, was filed by Rep. Jason Issac who represents a district just south and west of Austin.

Teachers and public employees unions are urging their members who live in Rep. Issac’s district to call him and voice their opposition to the bill.

“This bill would strip state workers of our right to determine where our hard earned money goes by no longer allowing us to have our union membership dues deducted from our paychecks,” states a letter to Texas State Employee Union (TSEU) members in Rep. Issac’s district.

“It is very urgent for every TSEU member who lives in Rep. Issac’s district. . . to voice their opposition to this bill,” continues the letter.

Nurses, teachers challenge GOP Rep. on health care

Nurses and teachers in Corpus Christi, Texas on July 30 challenged US Representative Blake Farenthold to step outside of his local office and defend his vote to deny health care coverage to millions of Americans.

They also chastised Rep. Farenthold for his implied threat of violence against women senators–Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and Shelly Moore Capito–for voting against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

After the US Senate rejected two Republican bills to dismantle Obamacare, Rep. Farenthold singled out the three Republican women among seven Republican senators who voted against one of the two bills.

He said that he would like to settle the score with them “Aaron Burr style,” referencing the 1804 duel between then Vice President Aaron Burr and former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton in which Burr killed Hamilton.

Rep. Farenthold voted to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a Republican health care plan that the Congressional Budget Office said would cause 23 million people to lose their health care coverage.

With temperatures reaching 97 degrees on a hot summer afternoon, members of National Nurses United/National Nurses Organizing Committee (NNU/NNOC) and the Corpus Christi American Federation of Teachers rallied outside of Rep. Farenthold’s Corpus Christi office to challenge him on his implied threat and his vote to reduce health care coverage.

Sylvia Higgins, a nurse and a member of NNU/NNOC, challenged him with facts about the impact that his vote for the Republican bill would have had on Texans and demanded that he support a common sense approach to providing health coverage for everyone.

“Currently, 4.3 million Texans are uninsured, and an additional 2.5 million Texans would have lost coverage under the dangerous GOP bill (to repeal Obamacare),” said Higgins. “Now that the GOP bill is effectively dead, any politician who truly represents the people would internalize the real facts about health care and begin advocating for a single-payer-for-all healthcare system—because that’s what our patients deserve.”

Others like a teacher who carried a sign that simply read, “Shame on you Farenthold,” challenged Rep. Farenthold’s character.

Apparently, Rep. Farenthold wasn’t up to the nurses’ and teachers’ challenge.

He said he couldn’t meet with them because he had to be in Moulton, a small town about 140 miles north of Corpus Christi.

Farenthold said that repealing Obamacare care remained one of his top priorities because “Obamacare is hurting the American people, especially those it was intended to help.”

Rep Farenthold is right. People are hurting, especially in Texas, but it’s not because of Obamacare; rather, it’s because of Republican antipathy toward Obamacare.

Texas, which is governed by Republicans, chose not to participate in Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion and actively disrupted efforts by non-profit groups to help people get health insurance through the federal health insurance exchanges.

As a result, 20 percent of adult Texans still lack health insurance.

Republican health care policy has hurt Texans in other ways as well.

Republican state officials have cut off government funding to Planned Parenthood and enacted laws that resulted in the closure of 31 Planned Parenthood affiliated clinics, most of which were in medically under served areas.

In addition to providing birth control and abortion services, these clinics provided basic health screenings for low-income women.

According to a recent study, among women with a high school education or less who once received examinations for breast cancer at Planned Parenthood clinics, 31 percent fewer are still getting examined.

There’s another health care crisis going on in Texas that is just now starting to get some attention.

The rate of pregnancy related deaths of women in Texas is 35.8 per 100,000. The national average excluding California is 23.8 per 100,000.

Texas leaders have appointed a task force to learn the cause and recommend a remedy for the state’s alarmingly high rate of pregnancy related deaths.

To the chagrin of Texas’ leaders, California may have already answered these questions. California’s pregnancy related death rate is 7.3 per 100,000.

California’s success at reducing pregnancy related deaths is the result of a collective public health initiative funded by the state and federal government and the California Healthcare Foundation.

It should also be noted that only 8 percent of Californians lack health insurance, which makes health care much more accessible in California.

It is unquestionable that Obamacare is a much better approach to health care than the Republican approach, but Obamacare is not without its shortcomings.

The main problem is that 29 million Americans still don’t have health insurance, which is why when people demonstrated in front of Rep. Farenthold’s office, they advocated for a single-payer health care plan that would make health insurance available to everyone.

“We need single payer/Medicare for All, and we need Rep. Farenthold to advocate for it,” said Cynthia Martinez, a nurse and NNU/NNOC member.

Court decision gives boost to fight against Missouri’s new anti-union law

The Missouri Court of Appeals for the Western District handed the state’s labor unions a victory on July 28 when it ruled against plaintiffs seeking to block a statewide referendum on the state’s new right-to-work law.

The Appeals Court overturned an earlier Circuit Court ruling that sided with opponents of the referendum. Opponents claimed that the summary of the referendum written by the secretary of state and approved by the state’s attorney general was unclear.

The Appeals Court acknowledged that there were some problems with the summary but that the problems did not affect its clarity.

The state AFL-CIO praised the Appeals Court’s ruling and said that it will continue collecting signatures on petitions to put the referendum on the November 2018 ballot.

The referendum will give Missouri voters the opportunity to veto the newly enacted right-to-work law.

If the AFL-CIO collects at least 100,126 valid signatures on the referendum petition before August 28 when the new law becomes effective, implementation of the new law will be delayed until after the election.

Gov. Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens in February signed the anti-union, right-to-work law after it was passed by the Republican dominated legislature.

Passage of the new law came after what the Kansas City Star described as “decades-long push by Republicans and business groups.”

The new law is called a right-to-work law, but it has little to do with protecting a person’s right to work. Its only purpose is to weaken unions.

The new law allows workers to enjoy the benefits of union membership–wages and benefits negotiated by a union, union grievance representation, etc.–without paying union dues.

Union dues provide resources that unions need to stand up for worker rights. Paying union dues is also an act of solidarity, and worker solidarity is the source of union power. Without it, the boss dictates the terms and conditions of employment.

Hours after Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens signed the law into effect, the state AFL-CIO and state NAACP filed for a referendum on the new law with the Missouri secretary of state.

The secretary of state wrote a summary of the proposed referendum and sent it to the attorney general for review.

After the review was complete, the secretary of state in March approved a petition for the referendum. The wording of the petition was based on the secretary of state’s summary.

In April, the AFL-CIO began collecting signatures on the petition.

In order to keep voters from voting on referendum, three plaintiffs represented by the National Right to Work Foundation filed suit charging that the secretary of state’s summary contained grammatical errors that made the purpose of the referendum unclear.

The National Right to Work Foundation is affiliated with the National Right to Work Committee, which is funded by Charles and David Koch, the Walton family, which owns Walmart, and other anti-union business people.

The reason that these business leaders want states to pass right to work laws is that workers in states that have right to work laws earn less money and have fewer benefits than their counterparts in non-right to work states.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, full-time, full-year workers in right-to-work states are paid $1558 a year less than comparable workers in states that do not have right-to-work laws.

Another study by EPI found that the rate of employers that offer health insurance benefits is 2.6 percent lower in right-to-work states than in non right-to-work states.

A Missouri Circuit Court in June heard the plaintiffs’ suit and ruled in their favor.

After the ruling, the AFL-CIO continued to circulate the referendum petition, but there was some question about how the judge’s ruling would affect the validity of the signatures gathered.

That question was rendered moot when the Appeals Court ruled against the plaintiffs and allowed the wording of the summary to stand.

Meanwhile, the union’s petition drive is entering its home stretch. The petitions must be submitted before August 28 when the new law goes into effect.

The AFL-CIO has scheduled petition mobilizations for the weekends that remain before the deadline.

After the Appeals Court announced it ruling, Mike Louis, president of the Missouri AFL-CIO told the St. Louis Post Dispatch that he was confident that the petition drive will succeed and that people will have a chance to vote on the new law in 2018.

NYC hospital workers urge employer to drop Waldner’s

Union health care workers at New York Presbyterian Hospital on July 18 rallied to support locked out truck drivers and warehouse workers who are fighting for their jobs.

The truck drivers and warehouse workers work for Waldner’s Business Environments, an office furniture dealer based in Farmingdale, New York.

Waldner’s sells furniture to a number of large institutions in New York City including the City University of New York (CUNY), New York Life, Columbia University, the Metropolitan Transit Authority, Estee Lauder, and Spotify.

Waldner’s biggest client is New York Presbyterian Hospital, which operates ten hospitals in the New York metropolitan area.

On July 18, New York Presbyterian nurses, doctors, and other health care workers joined members of Teamsters Local 814 in a rally outside of the New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center in Upper Manhattan to demand that the hospital stop doing business with Waldner’s until it reinstates the locked out workers and bargains with them in good faith.

“I’ve delivered furniture to New York Presbyterian for nine years,” said Jim Awgul, a truck driver who has worked at Waldner’s for 31 years. “It hurts to see the hospital do nothing while Waldner’s fires me and my coworkers to replace us with cheaper subcontractors. If New York Presbyterian really cares about the community, they won’t do business with a company that is violating our rights.”

A few days before the rally, Jill Furillo, executive director of the New York Nurses Association sent a letter to New York Presbyterian’s CEO urging him “to reconsider your business relationship with this abusive and anti-union employer.”

Waldner’s Business Environments is a third generation woman owned business that by all accounts is a thriving and profitable business.

In its corporate profile, it states that it respects its employees and “encourage(s) growth and advancement while fostering a healthy work-life balance.”

That statement may sound hollow to Kevin Roach, who has worked for Waldner’s for 33 years.

“I don’t know how New York Presbyterian Hospital can stand by while quality health coverage is taken away from the workers delivering its furniture,” said Roach, who is also a Teamsters shop steward. “My son has Down Syndrome and a compromised immune system. My family desperately needs the health care that Waldner’s took away. We need New York Presbyterian’s help, but they are saying it’s not their problem.”

Despite being a profitable business, Waldner’s earlier this year decided to end its relationship with Local 814, fire its 20 full-time and 20 part-time warehouse workers, truck drivers, and helpers, and contract out its delivery services to a lower-wage subcontractor.

When the collective bargaining agreement between the Teamsters and Waldner’s expired on June 30, the workers were thrown out on the street.

But the union and its workers are fighting back.

Their main focus is disrupting the business relationship between Waldner’s and its biggest customer, New York Presbyterian, which touts itself as “providing the highest quality, most compassionate care and service to patients in the New York metropolitan.”

And it’s not just asking politely.

On two separate occasions after the lockout began, construction workers joined Local 814 members to stop Waldner’s from delivering furniture to a New York Presbyterian construction site on the Upper East Side.

“New York Presbyterian Hospital executives should understand that it won’t be business as usual as long as they do business with Waldner’s,” said Jason Ide, president of Local 814. “We aren’t going away. This attack on unions is unprecedented in the furniture industry and if Presbyterian continues to buy from Waldner’s, they are complicit.”

Local 814 is urging the public to support the fired Waldner’s workers and has created a web page, DropWaldners, to provide the public with more information about the lockout.

The web page urges businesses that consider themselves socially responsible to drop their business with Waldner’s because “Waldner’s management walked away from the (bargaining) table after just one session, refused to bargain a new contract, and then locked out their long-time crew of drivers, helpers and warehouse workers.”

Local 814 has also filed an unfair labor practices charge against Waldner’s for failing to bargain in good faith.

The locked out Teamsters have won the support of local elected officials who are urging New York Presbyterian to drop Waldner’s.

“In New York City, we value companies that treat workers with respect. Waldner’s is showing that it does not share those values,” said City Council Member Mark Levine. “New York Presbyterian should drop Waldner’s and use an office furniture company that rewards its long-term employees instead of replacing them.”

Santander employees take union campaign to Washington DC

Members of the Committee for Better Banks traveled to Washington DC to share with members of Congress a new report on the predatory lending practices by Santander Consumer USA, the largest subprime auto loan lender in the US.

Committee for Better Banks is an organization of bank workers and consumer advocates affiliated with the Communication Workers of America. Members of the committee are working to unionize the banking industry, like it is in Europe and South America, and to improve banking practices in the US.

One of the banks where employees are trying to organize a union is Santander and its consumer loan division Santander Consumer USA.

Life for bank workers like these can be precarious.

Their pay is low and much of it is based on commissions they receive from selling banking services and products that customers often don’t need and often can’t afford.

“We had to make a decision every day about meeting our need to have a job and an income or speaking  up about practices that Santander has in place that negatively impact our customers,” said former Santander employee Jerry Robinson on the committee’s Facebook page.

The new report that committee members shared with members of Congress such as senators Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown describes some of the practices referred to by Robinson.

According to the report, Santander’s pay and incentive system pressures its call center collection employees “to use aggressive collection tactics” taught them by Santander to convince customers to agree to changes to their loans without explaining the high cost of the changes.

Santander Consumer controls more than one-third of the subprime auto loans in the USA.

These are high interest loans made to auto customers with low credit ratings.

About 31 percent of all outstanding auto loans are subprime loans.

It’s not unusual for subprime customers to miss or fall behind on loan payments.

In 2015, 16.7 percent of Santander’s auto loans were delinquent.

When customers do fall behind, they call or are contacted by Santander collection employees working in call centers.

In some cases, customers falling behind on their loans are encouraged to refinance or extend their loans.

Doing so may reduce monthly payments but the fees and extra interest rates that result can substantially increase the cost of the loan.

Santander’s practices have recently drawn the interest of state attorneys general who are cracking down on predatory lending practices.

Santander in March paid $25.9 million to settle predatory lending suits filed by the attorneys general of Delaware and Massachusetts.

Massachusetts’ Attorney General Maura Healey told Bloomberg Markets that in one of the cases cited in her suit, a Massachusetts car buyer ended up owing $10,000 on a $750 vehicle loan.

When members of the Committee for Better Banks met with members of Congress, they told them that having a union at Santander would give the workers the collective power they need to oppose such predatory practices.

Having a union would also give them a chance to have a reliable and steady income.

Currently, if workers don’t meet their sales quotas, they could end up making the minimum wage or near it.

Most people think that working for a bank like Santander is a good middle class job, but many of these workers struggle to make ends meet.

According to a report by the Committee for Better Banks, “bank worker wages are so low that almost one-third of bank tellers receive some sort of public assistance nationwide.”

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

In Spain where bank employees including those for Santander are union members, the average bank employee’s salary is $15,000 higher than the national average wage.

After meeting with members of the Committee for Better Banks, Sen. Brown issued a statement about the report presented to him by Santander workers.

“The behavior outlined in this report is troubling and, if true, shows that predatory practices boost profits for banks and their executives while hurting customers and workers,” said Sen. Brown, the ranking Democrat on the Senate’s banking committee. “It’s critical (that) workers are empowered to speak out if their company is harming them or its customers, and I urge Santander to respect the rights of these workers to elect union representation that will give them those protections.”