Debating whether or not to , city officials, community members and representatives from Mechanics Bank argued against the banking giant during Tuesday's city council meeting.
Council members voted against automatically renewing the contract with Wells Fargo, opting instead to consider moving the city's $300 million bank account to a local bank or credit union.
A representative from , which is headquartered locally in Richmond, assured the council that the company could handle the city's banking needs if they chose to drop Wells Fargo. The Mechanics Bank spokesperson told the council that the vast majority of banks act responsibly and are not representatives of the 1 percent.
Several migrant workers also spoke in support of the Berkeley's proposed "Responsible Banking Policy," which would veto Wells Fargo for the part it played in the subprime mortgage crisis. The workers cited Wells Fargo's support of politicians and companies accused of criminalizing and mistreating immigrants.
Meanwhile, representatives from Wells Fargo were listening in. Wells Fargo's Assistant Vice President of Communications Ruben Pulido issued the following statement at the conclusion of the council discussion:
Wells Fargo believes that lending to small businesses and job creation are important issues for our economic recovery. Nationally, Wells Fargo employs 1 in every 500 Americans—and more than 20,000 people in the greater Bay Area. Additionally, we have hundreds of job openings in the Bay Area and encourage people to apply (https://www.wellsfargo.com/careers/).
Wells Fargo is ranked as the No. 1 SBA 7(a) lender in the U.S., in California and in the Bay Area. In 2011, Wells Fargo extended $13.9 billion in new loan commitments to small businesses (businesses with less than $20 million in annual revenues) – up 8% from 2010 when we loaned $12.9 billion.
Furthermore, Wells Fargo has loaned more money to America’s small businesses than any other bank for nine consecutive years, according to the latest Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) government data (2010). The company is also the top financial services corporate philanthropist in the Bay Area, having donated $20.7 million to Bay Area schools and nonprofits in 2010. In summary, Wells Fargo is committed to our customers, and to the communities where we do businesses and our team members live and work.
Wells Fargo also issued a statement prior to the meeting. .