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Congressman Mark Pocan

Representing the 2nd District of Wisconsin

Rep. Pocan, 50 Members Urge Santander Bank to Remain Neutral as Workers Seek Possible Union Representation

May 5, 2017
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-02) led a letter with 50 Members of Congress urging Santander Holding USA CEO Scott Powell to remain neutral as their employees decide whether they want union representation. Banco Santander already has 150,000 unionized workers throughout Europe and South America.

In the letter, the Members write: “We were disappointed to hear that, to date, Santander’s U.S. management has not responded to the workers’ requests and has continued to discourage employees from participating in union activities, even on their own time.  We hope the company’s unwillingness to have a conversation with its employees about neutrality is not a harbinger of management’s opposition to their unionizing efforts.”

The text of the letter is below and an electronic copy can be found here.

Dear Mr. Powell:

We write to urge you to respect the rights of Santander Holdings USA (Santander) U.S. employees to choose whether they want union representation by staying neutral in the U.S. workers’ organizing efforts. Banco Santander’s 150,000 unionized workers throughout Europe and South America have benefitted from union representation, and the nearly 10,000 U.S. workers deserve the opportunity to choose without pressure from Santander management whether collective bargaining is right for them.

We understand that workers at Santander locations in the U.S., with the support of thousands of workers in eight countries, recently attempted to meet with management to ask the company to stay neutral in the U.S. workers’ organizing efforts. We were disappointed to hear that, to date, Santander’s U.S. management has not responded to the workers’ requests and has continued to discourage employees from participating in union activities, even on their own time.  We hope the company’s unwillingness to have a conversation with its employees about neutrality is not a harbinger of management’s opposition to their unionizing efforts.

In fact, allowing Santander employees to organize, should they choose to do so, could ultimately prove beneficial to Santander U.S. A number of recent violations, ranging from illegal overdraft fees to unlawful repossessions of military servicemembers’ vehicles, could ostensibly have been forestalled or prevented if employees operated under the protections provided by a union. Consider, too, the recent report by the Committee for Better Banks that sheds light on potential discriminatory lending practices, and whether a bank with a stronger relationship between management and employees would be better able to address these alleged violations and prevent future regulatory problems.

Banco Santander’s global workforce has helped it grow from a regional institution to one of the world’s 10 largest banks.  In particular, it has implemented agreements in the countries where its workforce is unionized that have helped it to avoid certain abuses that have become more prevalent among U.S. banks.  Santander’s U.S. employees deserve the same opportunity to form a union if they choose, and we urge you to stay neutral in those organizing efforts.

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