Wells Fargo 2017 Shareholder Meeting Letter
Dear Wells Fargo:
You have made a business model out of preying on communities of color, exploiting working families, and destroying the planet. We join concerned shareholders in demanding change. Your $467 million in investments in companies building the Dakota Access Pipeline threatens the water, lands, sacred sites, and burial grounds of Indigenous Nations. Your underwriting of predatory bond deals to Puerto Rico is responsible for the severe cuts to public services and education that have sparked the student strike at the University of Puerto Rico. Your record of discriminatory mortgage lending, financing private prisons, immigrant detention centers, and payday lenders, and funding the militarization of local police departments by supporting police foundations has devastated Black and Latino communities across the country.
When Wells Fargo workers organizing with the Committee for Better Banks blew the whistle on your illegal sales practices and culture of corruption, they faced intimidation and retaliation from management. Your executives tried to hide the scandal for years by using forced arbitration agreements, which make it impossible for consumers or workers to sue you and get a fair day in court. Although then CEO John Stumpf was forced to resign when news broke that you had committed “two million felonies” by opening fake accounts without customers’ consent, the majority of the directors and executives who had been responsible for overseeing your operations remain in their positions. Your fraudulent accounts scandal is just the latest outrage to which these directors and executives turned a blind eye. It is time for them to go.
We support concerned shareholders who have filed shareholder resolutions calling on you to:
• Adopt a global policy regarding the rights of Indigenous Peoples, which includes respect for the free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous communities affected by your financing;
• Conduct a comprehensive investigation into the root causes of the fraudulent accounts scandal and take steps to prevent it from happening again;
• Study whether you are too big to manage and should be broken up;
• Prepare a report about the steps you are taking to reduce your gender pay gap; and
• Disclose your direct and indirect lobbying.
These are common sense measures that would begin to address some of your predatory business practices. Unfortunately, all of them are opposed by your board of directors—the same directors who were asleep at the switch when workers warned them that they were being forced to break the law in order to keep their jobs. These directors are either unwilling or unable to do their job of overseeing you.
Therefore, we also join concerned Wells Fargo shareholders in calling for the removal of all directors who were on the board or in management positions while you were engaged in the systematic defrauding of two million of your customers.
These changes will not undo the damage that you have done. They are merely a first step that you can take to start to repair your relationship with communities. But you must do more. We further demand that you:
• Divest from the Dakota Access Pipeline and all other projects that infringe on the rights and lands of Indigenous Peoples or harm our environment;
• Stop funding companies that build private prisons and immigrant detention centers;
• Commit not to finance the proposed wall along the southern border of the United States;
• Pay back the money you have made by selling predatory debt deals to Puerto Rico;
• Respect your workers’ right to organize to win a voice on the job;
• Help struggling homeowners remain in their homes by implementing a moratorium on foreclosures and offering them loan modifications that include principal reduction;
• Stop funding payday lenders and charging your customers excessive overdraft fees that are effectively payday loans by another name; and
• End your use of forced arbitration clauses, which prevent the customers and workers who are harmed by your predatory business model from holding you accountable in court.
The harm that you have caused is immeasurable. You have upended lives, from Standing Rock to Puerto Rico, and around the globe. Many of your own shareholders are outraged. We join them in calling for you to change your ways.
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This form was created inside of Americans for Financial Reform.