News & Commentary

January 12, 2024

Julio Colby

Julio Colby is a student at Harvard Law School.

In Today’s News & Commentary: a Wells Fargo branch in Florida votes to join Wells Fargo Workers United; a bipartisan group of senators is probing Amazon’s treatment of its delivery drivers; and President Biden nominates a former union attorney to fill FLRA vacancy.

Wells Fargo employees at a Daytona Beach branch in Florida voted 4-1 to join the Communications Workers of America’s Wells Fargo Workers United, making it the second branch to join the union after an Albuquerque location in December. The successful unionization vote in Daytona Beach adds momentum to the broader campaign to unionize Wells Fargo, the first major U.S. bank facing a union drive. Wells Fargo workers across the country have been advocating for improved wages and working conditions, curbing aggressive sales tactics, and addressing other violations within the bank. A branch in Atwater, California is scheduled for a vote on January 18, and employees there have filed an unfair labor practice claim against Wells Fargo alleging coercive activities by supervisors. The ULP is one of nine against Wells Fargo at branches and call centers nationwide, with the bank settling two of them. A petition for a union vote has also been filed by Wells Fargo employees at a Wilmington, Delaware branch, with the election yet to be scheduled.

A bipartisan group of 29 senators, including 25 Democrats, one independent, and three Republicans, sent a letter to Amazon CEO Andy Jassy probing allegations of mistreatment of delivery drivers. The senators focused on Amazon’s Delivery Service Partner program, established in 2018, where entrepreneurs launch independent delivery businesses in partnership with Amazon. The letter highlights concerns that Amazon, while exerting control over drivers’ wages and working conditions, avoids legal responsibility through a network of supposedly independent delivery service partners. The senators point to reports suggesting that this system puts a heavy toll on drivers, often forcing them to work in extreme conditions without appropriate safety measures. They also note possible violations of the NLRA including issues related to union recognition, bargaining, and allegations of retaliation against delivery workers involved in union activities.

President Biden announced on Thursday his intention to nominate Anne Wagner, an attorney with extensive experience in federal government service and a federal employees union, to a seat on the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA). Since 2015, Wagner has served as associate special counsel at the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, focusing on protecting government whistleblowers and addressing federal employee complaints. Wagner previously served as the vice chair of the Merit Systems Protection Board, where she adjudicated federal employees’ appeals and handled cases brought by the Office of Special Counsel. Earlier in her career, she worked as assistant general counsel for the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), handling significant cases. Wagner’s nomination aims to restore a full complement of members to the FLRA. The departure of Ernest DuBester on January 3, 2023, created an ideological deadlock on the FLRA, although the board continued issuing decisions during the vacancy.

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