National Day of Action to Coincide
With Wells Fargo Shareholder Meeting
Actions in multiple cities will demand ouster of board members
and support for shareholder resolutions
April 25th, 2017: As Wells Fargo shareholders gather for their annual meeting in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, community stakeholders with the ForgoWells Coalition will be engaging in actions at Wells Fargo branches across the country, from East Orange, New Jersey to Kissimmee, Florida. They will be delivering a letter in which more than 75 organizations demand that shareholders oust 13 members of the Board of Directors, including CEO Tim Sloan, and fully support all the shareholder resolutions for bank reform. In addition to the actions at bank branches, a delegation of bank workers associated with the Committee for Better Banks, as well as Indigenous rights leaders and policy advocates, will attend the Wells shareholder meeting.
Furthermore, ForgoWells has joined with the ReFund America Project to issue a new report called Down the Wells: Wells Fargo’s Payday Loans Have Left Puerto Rico Billions of Dollars in the Hole. The report highlights Wells Fargo’s role in contributing to Puerto Rico’s debt crisis, by helping underwrite billions of dollars of predatory bonds with an effective interest rate of 734%. That report can be found at www.refundproject.org/#puerto-
“Whether it’s selling payday loans to the government of Puerto Rico or financing payday lenders that prey on communities in Black and Latino neighborhoods in the United States, Wells Fargo’s business model is built on extracting wealth from communities of color,” said Saqib Bhatti, a spokesperson for the ForgoWells Coalition and the Director of the ReFund America Project. “From Standing Rock to San Juan, the communities that Wells Fargo has devastated are rising up and demanding change.”
The ForgoWells Coalition letter voices support for a number of shareholder resolutions put being voted on at the bank’s shareholder meeting, including:
Stockholder Proposal 5: The Board of Directors should commission a comprehensive report on the root causes of the fraudulent accounts scandal, which saw employees forced to open more than two million fraudulent accounts to meet unreasonable and unattainable sales goals. The scandal led to the resignation of former CEO John Stumpf.
Stockholder Proposal 7: The Board of Directors should study whether Wells Fargo should divest its non-core businesses, effectively breaking up the bank. The CEO and Board’s inability to head off the fraudulent accounts scandal shows that the bank is not only too big to fail, but also too big to manage.
Stockholder Proposal 8: Wells Fargo should prepare a report on its policies and goals to reduce the gender pay gap, whereby women are paid less than men for the same work.
Stockholder Proposal 9: Wells Fargo should fully disclose its direct and indirect lobbying activity.
Stockholder Proposal 10: Wells Fargo should adopt a global Indigenous rights policy that includes “respect for the free, prior and informed consent” of Indigenous communities that are impacted by projects that the company finances, like the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Major shareholder advisory firms like ISS have recommended that shareholders vote against the 12 Directors who had been serving on the Board while employees were being forced to open fraudulent accounts. An independent report commissioned by Wells Fargo essentially reported that the Board knew about sales goals problems as far back as 2011, but failed to take action. In addition to those 12, the Forgo Wells coalition is calling for the removal of CEO Tim Sloan from the Board of Directors, since he served as part of the bank’s top executive management team during that time, even though he was not on the Board.
Actions will include a press conference in East Orange, NJ, announcing that city’s decision to divested all of its money from the institution, as well as direct actions in Florida and across the country.