AFT throws down gauntlet to Wells Fargo over gun support
WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten is in negotiations to meet with Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan to discuss the bank’s ongoing support for the gun lobby and gun manufacturers.
If Sloan continues the bank’s arms business, the AFT will dump its popular Wells Fargo mortgage program offered to members.
Other leading companies—including Dick’s Sporting Goods, REI and L.L. Bean— have acted to protect kids and educators in the wake of the Parkland massacre, but Wells Fargo continues to bankroll the NRA and help gun manufacturers such as American Outdoor Brands Corp. (the parent company of Smith & Wesson) and Vista Outdoor borrow hundreds of millions of dollars.
On Friday, the AFT released correspondence between Weingarten and 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. If Wells Fargo fails to budge, the AFT will urge other Union Privilege members to follow suit. The AFL-CIO was copied on the correspondence.
AFT President Randi Weingarten said: “The lives of students and educators must be valued more than guns. This is America—Wells Fargo has the right to be the NRA banker, but we have rights too. That’s why if Tim doesn’t ditch his guns business, we’ll ditch Wells Fargo. We are glad Tim wants to meet; but no words will dissuade us from our view that our society must value people over profits. We have a responsibility on behalf of our members and their students who face potential gun violence every day.
“We’re issuing Wells Fargo an ultimatum—they can have a mortgage market that includes America’s teachers, or they can continue to do business with the NRA and gun manufacturers. They can’t do both.”
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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.