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Friday, January 27, 2012

Goodbye Wells Fargo: My Letter to CEO John Stumpf

John Stumpf
CEO, Wells Fargo
420 Montgomery Street
San Francisco, CA 94104

Dear Mr. Stumpf,

I am writing to tell you that today (January 27, 2012) I withdrew all of my funds from the Wells Fargo bank in Alexandria, VA. I have kept my funds in that bank for the past six years, but now I am moving them to a bank that is local to our area and I will not bank with Wells Fargo again. There are a number of reasons why I am withdrawing our money, but to be concise, as a follower of Jesus, I find the business practices of Wells Fargo to be antithetical to my faith.

At the beginning of 2012, the United Methodist Church, to which I belong, divested from two private prison companies, Corrections Corporations of America and GEO Group. As United Methodists committed to ending the mass incarceration of people of color the Church decided that we could not continue to collude in the profit-making from mass incarceration by such corporations of GEO Group and CCA. These corporations and their enormous profits gained from mass incarceration has led to an explosion in the prison population to the point that although the United States represents 5% of the world’s population, we house over 25% of the world’s incarcerated population.

As a United Methodist, I am proud that my church is committed to reforming the criminal justice system so that it becomes system of healing for victims of crime and restoration for the accused. GEO Group and CCA do not share those values and because of the profits gained from the enormous stock holdings in GEO Group, neither does Wells Fargo.

As a United Methodist, I am proud that my church is dedicated to providing alternatives to incarceration for our youth instead of housing them with adults, which only increases the likelihood of recidivism. GEO Group specifically has benefited from housing juveniles with adults in such places as the Walnut Grove juvenile facility in Mississippi, where, as National Public Radio has recently reported, children as young as 13 were housed with 22 year old adults due largely to the lobbying of Mississippi’s state legislature by GEO Group to increase the age of inmates in juvenile facilities. As a result, physical and sexual abuse was rampant at Walnut Grove, and suggested changes were resisted because of added costs and little oversight.

I am withdrawing my funds from Wells Fargo because your bank places profits over the welfare of people and that is completely antithetical to my Christian faith. Wells Fargo currently owns 3,623,603 shares of stock in GEO Group, or 5.59% of the owned common stock. Wells Fargo is one of the top shareholders in this corporation that is one of the primary drivers of mass incarceration of people of color.

Further, in a country where millions of people are unemployed, where the gap between the rich and the poor is obscenely large, where the need for shared sacrifice by those in positions of power and affluence with those who are on the lower ends of the political and economic spectrum is most needed, that shared sacrifice is not found by you or the institution you run. According to the Twin Cities Daily Planet, “from 2008 to 2010, Wells Fargo paid an effective tax rate of -1.4 percent. The means the bank accepted more in federal tax subsidies – $17.9 billion over the three-year period – than it returned to the government in tax payments.” Even more, as recently as 2010, you earned over 17 million dollars in the midst of one of the worst economic downturns in a century. I cannot, in good conscience and in obedience to my Christian faith, continue to support your institution by keeping my money in Wells Fargo. Enough is enough.

I encourage you to change these policies that are so inhumane and so destructive to so many people. I will share this letter with my friends and family and do all I can to urge them to withdraw their funds from any Wells Fargo bank until your policies have changed. I welcome your response, particularly if Wells Fargo decides to begin a process of restitution by first divesting from all stock in GEO Group and any other private prison companies. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Bill Mefford
3441 A-2 South Stafford Street
Arlington, VA 22206

3 comments:

  1. Bill, I greatly appreciate the care with which you have articulated your objections. Without so much documentation, last year I divested all of my Exxon-Mobil stocks for reasons that were very similar to yours.
    Thank you for continuing to serve by example.

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  2. Thanks Bill for sharing your thoughts and your responsive actions to Exxon-Mobil! We need to continue holding corporations responsible for the damage they do and to encourage others to do the same!

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  3. Thank you for confirming that Wells Fargo is an evil entity. As a former employee, I already knew this from directly experiencing the mental abuse tactics they use against their employees and customers. The entire culture there was oppressive., and it was my belief that it was set up that way by design. The people in low and middle management were educated and experienced in some other line of business, but some were newbies to mortgage lending; usually less knowledgeable than those working under them and less experienced than their underlings by several years or decades in some cases. Under constant pressure from their superiors and aware of their own inferiority, those lower level managers felt personally threatened by the best and the brightest employees on their teams. So rather than promote the most deserving of their personnel into lesser positions of leadership such as team lead, they were more inclined to promote anyone who had no ability to outshine them. They were also incentivized to promote this way, since team leads had very little responsibility other than micro-managing the people who had actual work to do, so the most productive employees would remain in production roles. The entire.hierarchical structure that I answered to directly was akin to a bully and his minions, the only difference being they were all women. My professional experience spanned 20 years in residential mortgage lending and I had literally written the book on regulatory compliance (well, A book anyway). I was the first underwriter at that location to pass every one of my test cases for initial signing authority and two subsequent increases to my signing authority. As a former loan officer myself, the loan officers there were very appreciative of me for my work ethic, knowledge and approachability - and they made no bones about letting my superiors know what an asset they felt I was. I stayed for them (and health insurance). Letters arrived every week from various offices in the field singing my praises. And for all of these reasons, I was singled out and targeted by those women for the most hateful mistreatment I have ever endured, anywhere. Each award I won for service or underwriting quality made them hate me more. After surviving a year of misdirected tantrums, unfair or poor assignments, exclusions in pep-talks and team huddles, misplaced blame for problems not of my doing, ignoring my PTO requests, and all sorts of other nasty treatment, the ringleader fired me without cause while I was on bereavement leave after my dad died suddenly and unexpectedly from a massive heart attack.
    I don't blame those women anymore. They set me free from a job that was killing me bit by bit. I see how the whole hierarchy at Wells was designed to throw us into adversarial roles despite the fact that we were on the same team. They were being used to create and enforce a culture of mental abuse where profits serve to elevate the all-important stock value and human beings had no.further value than what they could contribute to the bottom line either as part of the machine's operation or as a source of the cash that feeds it.
    Your additional verifiable information linking the company to profiteering from the abuse and suffering of human beings who are neither employees nor customers...but from underpriveledged and emotionally vulnerable children, stealing from them any hope of a second chance in life (or a first really if you think about it). That leaves a sick feeling in my gut and confirms that there must be some really bad (demonic?) influence at the very core of that orgization. I.can't.believe that the only way to.make profits is by ruining lives. They could probably make as much or more by creating opportunities for people rather than perpetuating oppression..No, this company is a strong weapon that is very useful to the world's elite in their assault on the middle and lower classes. They are merchants of death and despair.

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