NO ADVERTISING, GOVERNMENT OR CORPORATE FUNDING

  • Latest News
  • Pitch a Story
  • Work with a Journalist
  • Join the Blog Squad
  • Afghanistan
  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Baltimore
  • Canada
  • Egypt
  • Europe
  • Latin America
  • Middle East
  • Russia
  • Economy
  • Environment
  • Health Care
  • Military
  • Occupy
  • Organize This
  • Reality Asserts Itself
  • US Politics
  • 1 out of 3 Bank Tellers in NY on Public Assistance


    New report finds bank executives receive big bonuses, while 39% of frontline bank employees must rely on welfare because of insufficient wages -   October 3, 14
    Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here


      Share to Twitter
    Share to Facebook


    I support the Real News because without The Real News we would have no real news at all. - WWH
    Log in and tell us why you support TRNN

    Bio

    Deborah Axt is on the Board of the Make the Road Action Fund, which together with New York Communities for Change, ALIGN, and the Communications Workers of America, form the Committee for Better Banks. Make the Road Action Fund and its sister organization, Make the Road New York, represent about 27,000 working class and immigrant New Yorkers through community organizing, policy design, and the provision of legal and survival services. Deborah is an attorney and is the lead architect of Make the Road's low wage worker organizing and policy work, leading low wage organizing in multiple sectors.

    Transcript

    1 out of 3 Bank Tellers in NY on Public AssistanceJESSICA DESVARIEUX, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore.

    Here's something you might not know. One in three bank employees in New York State are on public assistance. That's according to a new report released by New Day New York Coalition titled Leveraging New York's Financial Power to Combat Inequality. And this news comes almost two months after the University of California Berkeley Labor Center and University of Illinois published a study that said that more than 50 percent of fast food workers rely on public assistance programs due to their low wages.

    Here to talk about the report is Deborah Axt. She's on the board of the Make the Road Action Fund, which together with New York Communities for Change, ALIGN, and Communications Workers of America from the Committee for Better Banks wrote the report.

    Thanks for joining us, Deborah.

    DEBORAH AXT, BOARD MEMBER, MAKE THE ROAD ACTION FUND: Thank you so much for having me.

    DESVARIEUX: So, Deborah, can you just described for us the conditions for the average teller in the United States banking industry?

    AXT: Yes. I mean, what we're talking about here are jobs that the public generally perceives to be entry-level jobs on a path to a professional career. And what they really are, often, is completely dead-end jobs, where workers are trapped in forcibly part-timed work, low-wage work, with high-pressure sales goals, sometimes wage theft, even. And, you know, these are really rough jobs. Workers report often being pressured to sell deals, products, bank accounts, credit cards that are not necessarily in the best interests of the clients, and that they realize this is true but have no ability to blow the whistle on these kinds of unethical practices at the banks.

    DESVARIEUX: So what are your recommendations for alleviating some of these issues?

    AXT: Well, the first thing is that we need to make sure that that workers have a path to speak out. We need to make sure that there are whistleblower protections in place in states and cities like New York and that we don't give out subsidies. Right now we're giving out hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies to big banks in New York City and New York State alone with very little accountability for the job creation goals that are involved in those deals, and certainly with no checks with workers to make sure that they are being treated well and that their jobs are helping to lift people out of poverty.

    DESVARIEUX: I'm sure there are some people listen to this saying that at the end of the day there needs to be some form of unionization. Is that your ultimate goal? Are you hoping that tellers eventually will organize themselves to form a union?

    AXT: Make the Road, New York Communities for Change, ALIGN, and CWA that form the Committee for Better Banks have certainly had a long history of helping workers to organize into worker centers, into unions where appropriate. And so we believe strongly that workers need the right to organize and that they should be supported by the community members that we represent as well. And so we are here and would have their backs if that's what they choose.

    This is just the first step at looking at this industry. We have been actively organizing in car washes and supermarkets and in fast food restaurants, but we've just turned our attention to the banking industry to see what was going on with workers there and were shocked to discover that the treatment in the banking industry is much like the treatment in other exploitative low-wage industries. But this is a place that you wouldn't expect it. This is the place where the boss, the CEO, is actually the boss of capitalism, right, the boss of our international economic system. You know, they're billionaires. They are well compensated. This is an industry that certainly can afford to treat workers properly, to treat workers with dignity.

    DESVARIEUX: And I'm sure the irony isn't lost on our audience as well that you have people that are on the front line of the banking industry, they're the ones who are actually--one in three of them are qualified for public assistance. And then you have CEOs who are making millions, hundreds of millions sometimes. What is your response to that, Deborah? What sort of evidence have you found that supports this?

    AXT: Indeed. And we spoke to--we had about 5,000 conversations with bank workers across New York and other places in the country. We did another 200 formal surveys to document the conditions and have had a number of focus groups as well. And we have seen wages somewhere between $9 and $12 an hour. We have seen part-timed jobs that used to be reliable sources of income for bank workers. And we hear a lot about sales goals and sales pressure that really makes the pace of work unsustainable and that pushes workers to feel that they have to sell products to their consumers and their customers that they don't think are in their best interest.

    And so what is good for bank workers in this istuation is clearly good for consumers. We believe strongly that the collapse of our economy could have been prevented had we had protections in place allowing workers to come forward and speak up and blow the whistle on the shady practices that this industry was engaging in when we're talking about mortgages and other kinds of products that were being sold to low-income and communities of color.

    DESVARIEUX: Alright, Deborah Axt, very interesting report. Thanks for joining us.

    AXT: Thank you so much for covering this issue.

    DESVARIEUX: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

    End

    DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


    Comments

    Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at contact@therealnews.com

    Comments


    Latest Stories


    Kurdish Fighters Move to Regain Kobani
    Hedges and Wolin (3/8): Can Capitalism and Democracy Coexist?
    The Financialization of Life (3/5)
    Hedges & Wolin (2/8): Can Capitalism and Democracy Coexist?
    US Dropping Arms and Ammunition to Syrian Kurds in Kobani
    Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz: An Indigenous People's History of the United States (1/3)
    The Financialization of Life (2/5)
    Hedges & Wolin (1/8): Can Capitalism and Democracy Coexist?
    American Exceptionalism at Play in Interpreting the Convention on Torture
    UN Issues Statement on Human Rights Violations in Detroit
    The Financialization of Life (1/5)
    Study Finds Sea Levels Rising at an Unprecedented Rate
    Nuclear Deal with Iran 95% Complete
    Low Black Voter Turnout Could Unseat Senate Democrats
    Nearly Four Years After the Revolution, Where is Egypt Headed?
    U.S. Border Patrol Influence Expands Down to Mexican Southern Border (2/2)
    Does Iran Have Legitimate Nuclear Energy Needs? (2/2)
    48th Anniversary of the Founding of the Black Panther Party
    Why Are Republicans Linking Ebola & U.S-Mexican Border? (1/2)
    Culture of the National Security State - Deepa Kumar on Reality Asserts Itself (5/5)
    Does Iran Have Legitimate Nuclear Energy Needs? (1/2)
    Behind America's Store Fronts - Drugs, Homelessness and Abandonment
    Protests at St. Louis University - TRNN Reports From Ferguson
    Why Are Stock Markets So Volatile?
    The Islamophobia of "Homeland" - Deepa Kumar on Reality Asserts Itself (4/5)
    U.S. Will Fail In Attempt to Create Proxy Army in Syria
    Emissions Reduction Impossible without Demilitarizing Foreign Policy
    Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire - Deepa Kumar on Reality Asserts Itself (3/5)
    Pollution Inequality and Income Inequality
    Whose Interests Are Served by Occupy Hong Kong?

    RealNewsNetwork.com, Real News Network, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of IWT.TV inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and Real News Network.

    All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network.  Click here for more

    Problems with this site? Please let us know

    Linux VPS Hosting by Star Dot Hosting