AFT Severs Relationship with Wells Fargo over Guns
WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten announced today that the union would cut ties with Wells Fargo, after CEO Tim Sloan failed to follow up on meeting with the union to discuss the bank’s relationship with the National Rifle Association and gun manufacturers.
Earlier this month, the AFT released correspondence from Weingarten to Sloan outlining the union’s concerns about Wells Fargo’s connections with the NRA as well as its intention to stop offering Wells Fargo mortgages if Wells Fargo continues being the NRA banker.
The Wells Fargo mortgage program is part of the Union Privilege program, and approximately 1,600 AFT members have opted for these mortgages annually. More than 20,000 AFT members currently hold mortgages through the program. Today, the AFT will officially remove the bank from its list of approved lenders, sending a letter to each of its state federation leaders alerting them of the change. The AFT will urge other Union Privilege members to follow suit.
“Gun violence is an epidemic, but Tim Sloan won’t even engage in a conversation about mitigating it, much less take any real steps. We took him up on his offer to meet with us, then he went radio silent. So if Wells Fargo won’t value children and teachers above guns, we won’t do business with Wells Fargo,” Weingarten said. “It can be the bank for America’s teachers, or it can be the bank for the NRA and gun manufacturers. But, given the NRA’s refusal to even help mitigate gun violence, Wells Fargo can’t be both. Other companies, like Bank of America, BlackRock and Vanguard, have stepped up and engaged in meaningful conversations about what responsible relationships with gun companies look like, but Wells Fargo won’t. In fact, when we tried to schedule a meeting to discuss it, its friends at NRATV started launching vile attacks on teachers and personal attacks against me.
“We’re ending this relationship because we have a responsibility to our members and their students, who face potential gun violence every day. Gun violence is a public health epidemic, and in order to help stop it, we’ll stop the flow of resources to the companies that manufacture these weapons that have caused so much civilian carnage and death.”
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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.