Bank workers protest outside Santander

Bank workers protest outside Santander

Santander Bank is facing protests Monday from workers who are demanding a union.

More than 50 protesters blocked the entrance to Santander’s Boston headquarters and claimed to "shut it down" Monday, raising signs that read “Let’s Make a Union Santander” and “Justice for Bank Workers.” They hope to draw attention to what they say are low wages and poor working conditions at Santander Bank. 

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The Santander workers are fighting for their first union in the U.S., even though many of the bank’s international branches in Europe and South America have already organized. 

“We are willing to take this fight to Santander’s front door in Boston, the halls of Congress, and to executives overseas — whatever it takes to get workers and their customers what they deserve: A voice on the job and access to fair, ethical banking,” said Teresa Casertano, global campaigns organizing coordinator at the Communication Workers of America.

Santander is also coming under scrutiny for what critics say is discriminatory treatment of customers. This stems from a recently published report by the Committee for Better Banks, which found “racial and economic disparities” in Santander’s mortgage loans. 

In response to the report, nearly a dozen Senate Democrats wrote to Santander earlier this month expressing concern over the racial disparities. 

The protesters also raised concerns about Santander’s deceptive overdraft practices that were documented last summer by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which fined the bank $10 million.

Santander officials disputed the claim from protesters that they “shut down” the bank’s headquarters Monday.

“A small demonstration organized outside Santander’s corporate headquarters at 75 State Street earlier today and some demonstrators briefly entered the Santander branch on the ground floor of that location. The Bank’s Corporate Security team did close the branch for less than an hour to ensure the safety of our customers and employees, however, at no time was Santander’s corporate headquarters shut down,” according to Santander spokesperson Ann Davis.

Santander called the protests an attempt to “unfairly and inappropriately discredit” the bank.

“As we’ve said many times before, Santander recognizes and respects the rights of its employees to unionize or not, as they choose under U.S. law,” the bank said. “Santander prides itself on having an employee-friendly workplace where our employees are recognized and motivated and where direct, open and frequent communication between employees and management is encouraged.”