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Bank of America, Wells Fargo announce bonuses to rank and file

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Dive Brief:

  • Bank of America will give restricted stock bonuses worth a collective $800 million to roughly 97% of its staff, CEO Brian Moynihan said Thursday in a memo seen by Bloomberg and Reuters.
  • Employees who earn less than $500,000 in total annual pay are eligible for the award, Moynihan said.
  • Wells Fargo, meanwhile, will give $1,000 special cash awards to U.S. employees who were paid less than $75,000 in salary last year, American Banker reported Friday. Eligible employees’ total cash compensation for 2023 must not have exceeded $85,000, according to the publication. Staff must also meet certain job performance and conduct criteria, the outlet noted.

Dive Insight:

This marks the seventh year that Bank of America has given out restricted stock awards on a wide scale — and the third in which it has included employees who make less than $100,000 annually.

“The hard work of our teammates around the world over the past year again produced strong results,” Moynihan said in Thursday’s memo. “This work enabled us to invest in the future, including in our digital capabilities,” and “in programs and services designed to help our teammates enjoy long and successful careers with our company.”

The bank has handed out more than $4.8 billion in this annual restricted-stock effort since 2017, the bank said. This year’s $800 million pot is estimated to be larger than the roughly $700 million given out a year ago but smaller than 2022’s $1 billion.

Before 2022, Bank of America’s lowest-earning employees received cash bonuses worth $1,000 each year, or — in 2020 — $750. A limited number of employees this year will receive a cash bonus based on compensation and local requirements, Moynihan said.

The restricted stock bonus is just one tool Bank of America uses to incentivize its lowest-earning employees. The bank pledged in 2021 to raise its minimum hourly wage to $25 by 2025, and has typically boosted it by $1 per hour every year since.

The Wells bonus

As for Wells Fargo, at least one employee who talked to American Banker said he sees the bonus as a counterpoint to the unionization effort at that bank.

“I read it as a direct response to our union efforts,” Joe Hertz, a Des Moines, Iowa-based associate analyst and unionization advocate, told the publication. “I think not only can we take credit. I think we deserve to take credit.”

Regardless of the motivation behind the bonus, a Wells Fargo spokesperson, in a written statement to American Banker, said, “Our employees have worked hard over the last year to serve our customers in branches, over the phone, and in operations centers — or supported the employees who do — making a real difference for our company and customers.”

Two Wells Fargo branches — in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Daytona Beach, Florida — have voted to unionize in recent months. 

Nick Weiner, the senior campaign lead at the Committee for Better Banks, said Wells Fargo reached out before the bonuses were announced this week to make sure union officials approved of workers at the two unionized branches receiving the payments. 

“They didn’t try to play games with it,” Weiner said, noting that Wells Fargo pledged to union officials that it was not going to threaten to withhold the bonuses from employees who vote for a union.

In a Facebook post seen by American Banker, Hertz took a more skeptical tone.

“They are trying to buy our loyalty with a one-time bonus,” Hertz wrote. “They are hoping that we will forget about our grievances and give up on our union. They are wrong.”

Correction: A previous version of this story mischaracterized Wells Fargo’s response in talks with union officials regarding the bonuses. Banking Dive regrets the error.

 

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