Tax cuts result in big profits for AT&T, workers get layoffs and concession demands

At an annual Tax Day demonstration in Washington DC, the Communication Workers of America (CWA) criticized the corporate tax cuts passed in December.

Union leaders said that the tax cut produced billions of windfall profits for corporate giants like AT&T and gave them incentives to offshore and outsource good paying, working class jobs.

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson was an enthusiastic supporter of the tax cuts, which have proven to be especially good for the company.

AT&T reported a $29.5 billion profit in 2017, a 126 percent increase over 2016 when the company reported $13 billion in profits.

The tax cut was a big reason for AT&T’s enormous profits.

Morningstar reports that “the corporate-tax overhaul, a long held goal of Chief Executive Randall Stephenson, helped AT&T book a $19 billion profit in the fourth quarter (of 2017), though its revenues slipped by 0.4 percent.”

Shortly after the tax bill passed in December, Stephenson promised that the company would invest its savings to create thousands of new jobs, but four days later on Christmas Eve, AT&T notified workers that it was eliminating thousands of jobs across the US.

One of the workers who received a layoff notice was Merle Milton, CWA Local 4004 president in Detroit.

AT&T told Milton and 114 other union employees at its Detroit call center that it was closing the call center and laying off the workers. Earlier in 2017, AT&T closed another Detroit call center eliminating 53 union jobs.

“This December, AT&T announced that they were closing the call center where I’ve worked for 25 years,” Milton said. “My co-workers and I worked hard to provide quality customer service and help grow AT&T into the successful company it is today. But instead of rewarding us for our dedication, AT&T is pulling out of our community and taking our jobs overseas–undermining customer service and hurting hardworking families. Workers deserve better, AT&T customers deserve better, and cities like Detroit deserve better.”

Milton and the Detroit workers weren’t alone.

Larry Robbins, vice president of CWA Local 4900, told the Indianapolis Star that, “we believe there’s more than 4,000 people AT&T has (notified of layoffs) across the country.”

CWA said that many of these lost jobs are being sent overseas where workers are “paid pennies on the dollar relative to call center workers in the US,” and it appears that the new tax law is facilitating these job losses.

A recently released report by the Congressional Budget Office  (CBO) says that the new tax code gives tax breaks to companies that offshore tangible assets. Tangible assets include things such as factories, office buildings, and call centers.

Doing so, states the CBO, “may increase corporations’ incentives to locate tangible assets abroad.”

CWA is supporting legislation to end tax breaks that encourage companies to shift jobs overseas.

The bill titled the “No Tax Breaks for Outsourcing Act” is sponsored by Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Texas and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse  of Rhode Island.

Those that still have jobs at AT&T have found that the company is acting as if it were in financial trouble rather than flush with tax-cut cash.

AT&T is seeking concessions as it negotiates a new collective bargaining agreements with two of its bargaining units–AT&T Midwest and AT&T Legacy T.

The company is demanding what the union calls “unprecedented” increases to workers’ health care costs, weaker pension benefits, and more outsourcing of union jobs.

Lisa Bolton, CWA’s vice president for telecommunications and technologies called AT&T’s concession demands “insulting.”

“AT&T made nearly $30 billion in profits last year, and is reaping major benefits from the passage of the corporate tax cut bill,” Bolton said. “They can afford to keep good family supporting jobs in our communities instead of laying off workers and sending their work to low-wage contractors.”

The two contracts that cover 14,000 workers have expired, but the union and company continue to negotiate.

Workers at the two bargaining units have authorized a strike if the two sides can’t reach a fair agreement.

“Our members remember the big promises that AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson made if the corporate tax cut bill passed, and now we’re holding AT&T to those promises,” said CWA District 4 Vice President Linda L. Hinton. “AT&T should not underestimate CWA members. They are ready to do whatever it takes to get a fair contract. . . , including going on strike if we aren’t able to make progress at the bargaining table.”



Frontier Communication workers strike for job security and improved customer service

Workers at Frontier Communications in West Virginia are on strike.

The 1400 striking Frontier workers are members if the Communication Workers of America (CWA). They walked off their jobs on March 4 because they want their new collective bargaining agreement to include job security protections for all union members.

Union members also want Frontier to keep promises that it made to customers when it acquired the state’s telecommunications system from Verizon in 2010.

“Frontier promised West Virginians that they would continue to provide the high quality service that is critical for families and businesses across the state,” said Ed Mooney, vice president of Communications Workers (CWA) of America District 2-13. “Instead, what we have seen is a sharp increase in customer complaints that has coincided with job cuts. There are simply not enough employees to get the job done.”

The CWA bargaining team began negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement with Frontier ten months ago.

After nearly a year of bargaining, the company was willing to guarantee job protections for 85 percent of union members, but the union wanted job protections for all members.

Union members say that job protections and quality services go hand in hand.

Frontier acquired West Virginia’s telecommunication system from Verizon in 2010 and at the time promised to invest in the state’s local workforce and its telecommunication system.

But instead, the company eliminated 500 good-paying, middle class jobs, a 27.5 percent reduction in its workforce.

Half of those job cuts have come since January 2017.

In December, about the same time that Frontier learned that it would be getting a substantial tax cut, the company announced its plan to eliminate 50 more jobs.

While Frontier has been eliminating good-paying union jobs, the work load has not declined, and the company is using lower-paid non-union contractors to pick up the slack.

As the company relies more on inexperienced contractors, customer service complaints have increased substantially.

The union’s review of informal customer service complaints filed with the West Virginia Public Service Commission found that complaints against Frontier increased by 69 percent between 2014 and 2017 going from 639 in 2014 to 1072 in 2017.

“”Customers are waiting way too long to have their problems resolved, and too often we’re back fixing the same problems over and over again,” said John Bailey, president of CWA Local 2276 in Bluefield. “Frontier is leaving West Virginia behind. The network has been neglected and there are just not enough experienced, well-trained workers left to handle the service requests.”

Since the strike began, Frontier has been trying to maintain service by importing out-of-state contractors to serve as replacement workers.

One of the out-of-state contractors was detained by police after he brandished a gun at striking workers as they walked their picket line.

Despite the actions of one disgruntled contractor, striking Frontier workers have been receiving widespread support locally and throughout the US.

During a recess on the final day of the state Legislature’s session, a busload of Democratic lawmakers joined a Charleston picket line of  striking Frontier workers.

Earlier in the week, Frontier received a letter from Kent Carper, president of the Kanawha County Commission.

In his letter, Carper wrote that he was disappointed with Frontier.

When Frontier began operating West Virginia, wrote Carper, it made promises to the community, but the company “failed to live up to its promises.”

Carper requested a meeting with company officials “to discuss this work stoppage and offer my assistance to resolve it.”

In addition to these elected officials, other unions and union members from all over the US are supporting striking Frontier workers.

During the first week of the strike, members of International Union of Elevator Constructors Local 10, SEIU Virginia Local 512, CWA Local 2201, CWA locals from Virginia and Maryland, and UAW locals joined Frontier picket lines.

United Food and Commercial Workers locals 1776 and 23 whose members live and work in Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, and West Virginia sent a letter pledging support for the striking workers and their customers.

A number of unions including CWA locals all over the country and United Mine Workers of America locals 1924, 1620, and 1332 from the Navajo Nation posted messages of support on Facebook.

And union members and other supporters from all over the country have been making contributions to the strikers’ Solidarity Fund, which helps striking workers meet the financial responsibilities during the strike.

In  a statement issued on March 9, Mooney said that Frontier, which has already agreed to job security protections for 85 percent of its union employees, could end the strike by extending the same protections to just 200 more of its union workers.

“We are asking them to make a commitment on job security for 200 of their employees to close this deal,” Mooney said. “They have no problem making a commitment to 200 scabs, many of them from out of state, in order to try to undermine our strike. Why not commit to their own employees, some of whom have been with the company for 40 years or more?”

Federal contractor charged with labor law violations and wage theft

The National Labor Relations Board has filed a complaint alleging that one of the federal government’s largest contractors has violated federal labor laws.

The complaint issued by Region 5 of the NLRB states that General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT) took illegal action to prevent workers at its Alexandria, Virginia call center from joining a union.

In a related matter, the Communication Workers of America (CWA) has charged GDIT with massive and systemic wage theft and has called on the Wage and Hours Division of the Department of Labor to take action against the company.

GDIT, which reported $4.4 billion in revenue in 2016, has extensive contracts with the US military, intelligence services, and civilian agencies.

Among its many government contracts is one with the Pension Benefit Guarantee Board  (PBGB).

Under this contract, 80 GDIT employees at its Alexandria call center answer inquiries from people who receive or are about to receive pension benefits from PBGB.

These workers in 2016 began working with CWA to form a union.

The NLRB’s complaint says that GDIT management responded to the workers’ desire to form a union with coercion and threats.

“I’m happy that GDIT is finally being taken to task for breaking the law,” said Sabrina Batta-Hopson, a union supporter at the Alexandria call center. “I hope this labor board complaint will prevent the company from spreading more misinformation to other workers.”

Among other things, the NLRB alleges that the call center’s program manager “by e-mail promulgated and maintained” a rule against employees talking to other employees about joining a union.

The same program manager during an employee meeting misinformed workers that a union wouldn’t help them get a pay raise because it would take an act of Congress to get one.

At another employee meeting, the program manager threatened employees with the loss of benefits if they joined a union and falsely claimed that if they joined a union, the company would lose its contract with PBGB.

The NLRB’s complaint is due to be heard on May 22 by an administrative judge.

“These federally contracted workers are entitled to the protections of our labor laws,” said Alex van Schaick, a CWA attorney. “GDIT not only abuses workers’ rights, but is also the focus of serious complaints about wage theft and other abuses, and may owe its employees over $100 million in back wages.”

The wage theft to which Van Schaick referred involves workers at 11 GDIT call centers all across the US.

These call centers operate under contract with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

These workers answer people’s questions about Medicare, help people enroll in Affordable Care Act health care plans, and help Medicare recipients get medical equipment to manage their health problems.

CWA wants the Wage and Hour Division to investigate its charge that GDIT is violating the law by misclassfying workers in order to pay a wage lower than the prevailing wage required by the Services Contract Act, by which contractors must abide in order get contracts with the federal government.

The union estimates that GDIT owes $107 million in back pay.

The crux of the union complaint is that GDIT’s call center workers are trained extensively and have broad knowledge about services that callers are seeking, but their job classification reflects a much lower level of skill and training.

“I’ve had two rounds of extensive training to get to my current job. It’s a lot of responsibility and a lot of work,” said Adrian Powe, a worker at GDIT’s Hattiesburg, Mississippi call center. “But I’m being paid at a much lower rate. I’m being cheated, and the federal government must hold GDIT accountable. GDIT needs to follow the contract it agreed to.”

Powe makes $9.64 an hour, but said he should make $11 to $12 an hour.

CWA estimates that if workers at the Hattiesburg call center were classified correctly and paid the wage they deserve, their annual wages would increase by between $3682 and $6572.

In addition to the workers in Hattiesburg, CWA has also filed wage theft complaints on behalf of GDIT workers in Kansas, Louisiana, and Virginia.

Kathleen Flick, who works at a GDIT call center in Bogualusa, Louisiana said that it’s wrong for GDIT to be stealing money from the working poor.

“I can’t run my air conditioning in the summer because I can’t afford the electric bills,” Flick said. “When I needed a major car repair, I had to take the money out of my 401(k) retirement plan. I’d like to visit my kids, both of whom are active military, but I can’t afford to do it.”

CWA President Chris Shelton said that the union’s wage theft charges will be test for the Trump administration.

“This will be a real test of whether laws that safeguard working people are actually enforced under the Trump administration,” Shelton said. “We’ve heard a lot of promises from this president about defending American workers. It’s time for action, not rhetoric.”

Union files suit to halt AT&T layoffs

Here’s a link to a podcast about this article on Union Edge radio:

The Communication Workers of America (CWA) called a pre-Christmas announcement by AT&T that it will be laying off more than 700 workers in its Southwest region “an extraordinary act of corporate cruelty.”

The union on January 3 filed a lawsuit in a federal court in Austin seeking to stop the layoffs and to reinstate those who subsequently lose their jobs. The lawsuit also seeks compensation for workers harmed by the layoffs.

AT&T, which announced the layoffs on December 14, said that the layoffs would begin on January 4 when 152 premises technicians in Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas will lose their jobs.

Premises technicians install AT&T’s internet and internet-based television services.

The company also said that in February, 561 more workers in various job titles will lose their jobs.

Claude Cummings, CWA District 6 vice president, described the layoffs as unprecedented because they come at a time when the company is highly profitable and expanding.

Cummings also noted that AT&T is relying heavily on subcontractors to perform work that union workers could be doing.

“We know that AT&T is using contract employees to do installation work while AT&T premises technicians, who are qualified and do the same work, will be jobless in just a few days,” said Cummings when the union filed suit.

The company justified its mass firings as a business decision based on “changing market dynamics.”

But the union isn’t convinced that “changing market dynamics” is the real reason for the layoffs.

The internet and internet-based television services that premises technicians install are highly profitable and are growing components of AT&T’s business.

In a recent media release aimed at investors, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said that the company’s internet and television business is expanding rapidly.

“We’re . . . on track to have one of the largest high-speed internet networks in the US, reaching more than 50 million customer locations with competitive high speeds,” said Stephenson in a release announcing AT&T’s third quarter results. “This expansion will make our bundled video, mobile, and broadband services even more compelling.”

In the same message to investors, Stephenson said that the company’s third quarter revenue was $39.7 billion and its quarterly profit was $3 billion.

In its lawsuit, the union called the company’s publicly stated reason for the layoffs “a self-serving fabricated fiction” and “palpably false.”

According to the union’s complaint, there is no shortage of work at AT&T.

“In the Austin, Texas area, the Company is subcontracting approximately 80 percent or more of the kinds of work that Premises Technicians are trained and qualified to perform,” states the lawsuit.

The lawsuit also points out that in Dallas, 1000 subcontractors are performing the work of premises technicians.

After being notified on December 12, that the company would be laying off union members, Cummings contacted AT&T and proposed alternatives to the layoffs.

Cummings told the company that it should use union workers to perform the work being done by subcontractors.

He also said that the layoffs should be postponed until the company and union could meet to discuss his proposal and other alternatives to layoffs.

But the company refused to discuss the matter, which the union argues is a violation of Article VIII of its collective bargaining agreement with AT&T.

In addition to layoffs in its Southwest region, AT&T has announced layoffs in other areas of the country as well.

Newsweek on Christmas Eve reported that “AT&T plans to layoff and fire more than 1000 workers” in 2018.

The Chicago Tribune reported that AT&T will be laying off 600 workers in its Midwest region.

In New York, 700 DirecTV installers received pre-Christmas pink slips. DirecTV is owned by AT&T.

These firings come just weeks after Stephenson promised Congress that if it passed the massive corporate tax cut proposed by Republicans, the company would add thousands of new jobs.

In its lawsuit, the union blames the layoffs on the company’s attempt to “diminish the union’s bargaining strength” by reducing the number of employees in the bargaining unit represented by the union.

In a parallel legal action, the union also filed  unfair labor practices charges against AT&T with the National Labor Relations Board.

The union’s charge states that AT&T’s layoffs are being implemented in bad faith because the company is violating its collective bargaining agreement with the union by contracting out work that should be done by union members.

“We expected AT&T to invest in our communities and customers, and to create more jobs, as the Republican tax plan promised,” said Cummings. “Instead, AT&T is cutting jobs and working people face layoffs and an uncertain future.”

Union and workers charge T-Mobile and others with age discrimination

The Communication Workers of America (CWA) and three workers filed an age discrimination lawsuit against T-Mobile, Amazon, Cox Communications Media Group, and hundreds of other large US corporations.

The lawsuit, Communications Workers of America et al. v. T-Mobile US, Inc. et al., charges the corporations with coordinating with Facebook to block older workers from receiving job advertisements, an illegal act that violates federal, state, and local laws against age discrimination.

According to the plaintiffs’ complaint, large corporations “eliminate older workers from receiving job ads by specifically targeting their employment ads to younger workers via Facebook’s ad platform.”

“The practice is systematic in the American economy,” continues the complaint, filed in a San Francisco federal court.

“Today, the primary way workers find out about job openings is online, including by getting job ads on Facebook,” said Linda Bradley, a 45 year-old unemployed call center worker and one of the plaintiffs. “It’s not right if people my age are deliberately screened out, and I don’t even get the chance to hear about jobs that I know I have the skills to do.”

The lawsuit includes pictures of Facebook job ads from a number of large corporations and an explanation accompanying each ad.

The explanation tells users that they received the ad because the company is targeting potential applicants who fall into a company-designated age range.

One such explanation for a T-Mobile job ad tells Facebook users that “T-Mobile wants to reach people ages 18 to 38 who live or recently lived in the US.”

Other explanations also contain age ranges, none of which include an age higher than 55 years old.

The lawsuit asks the judge to designate it as a class action lawsuit and asks for an injunction against T-Mobile, Amazon, Cox, and other large employers to stop them from excluding older workers from seeing their job ads.

It also seeks compensation for older workers who have been denied job opportunities.

Two of the plaintiffs, Bradley and Lura Callahan, live in Franklin County, Ohio where Columbus, the state capital, is located.

They are both experienced call center workers who have been laid off from their jobs and are looking for work.

“Living in Ohio, it’s hard to find a good job that pays a living wage,” said Callahan, who is 67 years old. “I’m upset that so many companies are blocking me and other workers from even learning about job opportunities.”

The other plaintiff is Maurice Anscombe, a 57-year-old laid off cable technician with 20 years of experience who lives in Baltimore, County, Maryland. Anscombe has also worked as a law enforcement officer.

One of the attorneys for the plaintiffs is David Lopez, a civil rights attorney with the law firm of Outten & Golden.

“In decades as a civil rights lawyer, I have never seen job ads like these that expressly target young workers and exclude older workers,” said Lopez “The law requires equal opportunity in advertising, recruiting, and hiring.”

“It’s illegal and immoral to exclude older workers from receiving a company’s job ads,” added Peter Romer-Friedman, another attorney with  Outten & Golden representing the plaintiffs. “This harmful practice must stop today. We are hopeful that this class action will end systemic age discrimination in online job recruiting.”

The complaint also faults Facebook for allowing these discriminatory ads to be broadcast.

“Facebook continues to profit from employment discrimination by helping employers and employment agencies to unlawfully exclude older workers from receiving job ads and information,” states the complaint

Facebook’s “search for greater profits. . . has turned its powerful ad platform into a conduit for age discrimination,” continues the complaint.

Facebook has also faced charges that its ad platform allows advertisers to exclude African Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans from “receiving ads for various economic opportunities, including housing and employment ads,” states CWA in a media release.

A 2016 report by Pro Publica found that Facebook “gives advertisers the ability to exclude specific groups it calls ‘Ethnic Affinities.’ Ads that exclude people based on race, gender and other sensitive factors are prohibited by federal law in housing and employment.”

The Pro Publica piece showed a Facebook ad for housing that excluded African Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans from receiving the ad.

Facebook is not named as a defendant in CWA, et al. vs. T-Mobile et al., but the suit laments the fact that Facebook “has not lived up to its great potential to help workers.”

Union describes tentative agreement with AT&T as “groundbreaking”

The Communication Workers of America (CWA) on December 14 announced that it reached a tentative agreement with AT&T on a contract that covers 21,000 AT&T Orange Mobility workers.

The union called the tentative agreement a “groundbreaking contract” because it raises wages well above the national average for retail and call center workers, provides unprecedented protections against outsourcing, and provides first-ever job security protections.

The agreement did not come easy. It took 11 months of hard bargaining and a flurry of mobilizations by rank and file union members to finally reach an agreement.

When bargaining began, the company showed no interest in addressing bargaining concerns raised by workers.

When the union said that it wanted the new contract to provide protections against outsourcing, the company said that it wasn’t interested.

When the union said that it wanted the new contract to provide some guarantees of job security, the company said that it wasn’t interested.

When the union said that it wanted the new contract to provide some relief from the company’s draconian disciplinary policies, the company said that it wasn’t interested.

The company’s intransigence forced the union to call a three-day unfair labor strike in May.

The strike, the largest strike by retail workers in the US, shut down hundreds of AT&T retail stores in 36 states and the District of Columbia.

After the strike, the union continued to mobilize workers to demonstrate their solidarity and determination to win a fair contract.

After months of negotiations and mobilizations, the union was finally able to announce that it reached a tentative agreement that it could take to its membership.

Brandon Beck, an AT&T retail worker in San Diego, said that the success of the AT&T workers’ fight has implications for the entire working class.

“For too long, corporations have been squeezing workers and taking away our prospects for good quality American job–jobs that we can genuinely live on and that give us our fair share of the productivity we bring to our communities and country,” Beck said. “This contract shows that wireless workers like me will no longer put up with this disturbing trend. We have successfully fought back together against increased sales pressure, reduced pay, and the frustration of outsourced and offshored call centers. We can breathe easier knowing the service to our customers will be better, and our future will be brighter. Quality jobs are here to stay and grow.”

The tentative agreement raises wages by 10.1 percent over the four-year life of the contract.

For retail store workers like Beck, whose pay partially depends on commissions, the contract shifts $2500 from commissions to base pay, which makes workers’ paychecks more stable and predictable.

During the life of the contract, retail store workers’ pay will increase to an average of $19.20 per hour, well above the national average for retail workers.

Additionally, the agreement requires AT&T to route 80 percent more calls to call centers in the US covered by the Orange contract, and it requires the company to provide quarterly reports to the union that it can use to monitor and enforce compliance.

Protecting jobs against outsourcing was one of the workers biggest concerns because companies such as AT&T have been outsourcing more call center work abroad.

Other important features of the agreement include:

  • job security language that guarantees a job for workers whose store or call center is closed or whose job title is eliminated
  • more flexibility for the use of sick days and less risk of discipline for using them
  • restrictions on monitoring and surveillance so that evaluations are fair
  • maintaining workers’ health insurance costs at present levels
  • safety equipment for warehouse workers and
  • increased on-call pay for technicians.

These improvements were made possible by an organized and mobilized union membership.

When it looked like negotiations were going to be difficult and protracted, the union created a network of mobilizers, rank and file union activists who could help build demonstrations of solidarity and keep members informed about the negotiations.

The first big test of the effectiveness of this network was the three-day strike in May.

Participation in the strike exceeded expectations of the union and set the company back on its heels.

“Management was absolutely stunned that so many people went on strike to demand a fair contract (special props to our great mobilizers and picket captains who did great work maintaining those picket line),” said CWA in a message to members after the strike.

When workers returned to work, the union kept up pressure by organizing a series of solidarity actions.

Some were small such as wearing union stickers and t-shirts; some were big such as participating in informational picket lines at AT&T stores.

In October, the company tried to skirt the union by sending what it called its final offer directly to union members in hopes that members would pressure union negotiators to agree to a contract on the company’s terms.

The company’s attempt to undercut the union backfired. Instead of pressuring the union to agree to a faulty contract, union members swamped a top AT&T executive with emails demanding that the company get serious about negotiating a fair contract.

In November, it did, and by the middle of December, the union was able to announce that it had reached a tentative agreement.

In January, union members will begin voting on whether to ratify the agreement.

Dennis Trainor, vice president CWA Region 1, said that solidarity and persistence by union members won an “historic contact” and that these actions represent a harbinger of things to come.

“Let this be a sign to all companies that put profits above workers: when we stand together, we win,” Trainor said.

Union opposes Wall Street takeover of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

The Communication Workers of America (CWA) has denounced President Trump’s attempt on behalf of Wall Street to take control of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

CFPB is the federal agency created in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis to protect consumers against the predatory practices of Wall Street banks.

Those practices led to the Great Recession, which cost millions of workers their jobs, their homes, and their livelihoods.

President Trump on November 24 appointed Mick Mulvaney, a longtime opponent of CFPB, as the acting head of the agency after CFPB Director Richard Cordray resigned.

Mulvaney, who is also the director of Trump’s Office of Management and Budget, sponsored legislation to abolish CFPB when he was a member of Congress.

There is, however, a dispute about Mulvaney’s claim of leadership at CFPB.

According to the Dodd-Frank Act, the law that created CFPB, the agency’s deputy director becomes the acting director when the director is unavailable to serve.

Leandra English is the deputy director and assumed leadership of the agency when Cordray resigned.

English has gone to court seeking a temporary restraining order to block Mulvaney’s appointment.

“The leadership battle at the CFPB is part of a larger struggle over whether our country will return to the days when big Wall Street banks could act with impunity and without accountability,” said Chris Shelton, president of CWA in a media release.

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, enacted in 2010, established protections meant to stop Wall Street from indulging in questionable financial practices that put the whole economy at risk.

It also protects consumers from unlawful business practices such as the ones carried out by Wells Fargo when the bank enrolled customers in high-cost banking services that customers neither wanted nor agreed to purchase.

“The CFPB has returned over $12 billion to American consumers harmed by Wall Street wrongdoing and has helped to expose the illegal actions of such corporate bad actors as Wells Fargo and Santander,” Shelton said. “The CFPB gives bank employees who are concerned about potentially illegal high-pressure sales tactics a way to voice their concerns without having to navigate a maze of regulatory agencies.”

To maintain CFPB’s integrity, Dodd-Frank established rules of succession for replacing CFPB’s director with an acting director should the director resign.

Those rules say that the deputy director, who is Leandra English, becomes the acting director until the president appoints a new director and the appointment is confirmed by the Senate.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who was instrumental in creating the CFPB, told the New York Times that the CFPB succession rules were expressly written to ensure that the agency remains independent of the powerful political influence of Wall Street.

“The agency was built to be as far away from partisan politics as humanly possible — including exactly what Donald Trump is doing now,” said Warren to the Times. “The DNA of this agency is to work for America’s families and to stand up to big Wall Street banks. Mick Mulvaney wants to work for Wall Street banks and step on American families.”

Shelton accused President Trump of “flagrantly flouting the law in an attempt to give Wall Street banks the green light to again rip off American working families.”

“Trump’s attempt to install Mick Mulvaney as acting CFPB director violates the clear language of the Dodd-Frank Act prohibiting him from doing so,” added Shelton.

President Trump justified his appointment of Mulvaney by citing the Vacancies Act of 1998, which gives the president the authority to appoint acting heads of agencies when a director’s position is vacant and the permanent director must be approved by the Senate.

English, on the other hand, argues that she is the legitimate head of CFPB because the law creating the agency clearly spells out the rules of succession that differ from the Vacancy Act.

Shelton said that Wall Street already has too much power in Washington and shouldn’t be allowed to take over the only agency that has actually stood up to it.

“Consumers need an independent CFPB,” Shelton said. “Wall Street already has enough friends in Washington.”