San Francisco, CA – The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) announced on Thursday that it will no longer recommend Wells Fargo bank for its 1.7 million members’ mortgage needs, because the financial institution refused to comply with their demands to cut ties with gun manufacturers and the National Rifle Association (NRA).
"We can only assume that, in light of your silence and the NRA attacks, you have decided that the NRA business is more valuable to you than students and their educators are,” AFT President Randi Weingarten said in a letter to Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan on Thursday, according to USA Today.
The final severance came after the AFT demanded that the bank terminate their association with the NRA and gun manufacturers earlier this month.
“We’re issuing Wells Fargo an ultimatum—they can have a mortgage market that includes America’s teachers, or they can continue to do business with the NRA and gun manufacturers,” the AFT said in a press release on Apr. 7. “They can’t do both.”
“The lives of students and educators must be valued more than guns,” Weingarten went on to say, according to the release. “If Tim doesn’t ditch his guns business, we’ll ditch Wells Fargo.”
Sloan had offered to meet with AFT representatives to discuss their concerns.
“When dealing with the safety of our families, children, and other issues of this magnitude, there are no easy or satisfying solutions,” he wrote in an Apr. 3 letter to Weingarten, according to The Washington Times. “In fact, as I have publicly stated, I do not believe that the American public wants banks to decide which legal products consumers can and cannot buy.”
But the AFT was only willing to hear one solution.
“We are glad Tim wants to meet; but no words will dissuade us from our view that our society must value people over profits,” the AFT press release said.
"We essentially said you can have the mortgage business … or you can continue to value guns more than the people who serve in schools and the kids that have been affected by gun violence," Weingarten told USA Today.
Approximately 20,000 AFT members currently hold mortgages through Wells Fargo, including an estimated 1,600 members who obtained mortgages in 2017 alone, USA Today reported.
After the AFT announcement to drop Wells Fargo, roughly the same number of teachers still hold mortgages with the company.
In February, the NRA issued a statement criticizing the companies who had opted to sever ties with the group in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School attack in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 people dead.
"Some corporations have decided to punish NRA membership in a shameful display of political and civic cowardice," the statement read, according to USA Today. “Law-abiding members of the NRA had nothing at all to do with the failure of that school’s security preparedness, the failure of America’s mental health system, the failure of the National Instant Check System or the cruel failures of both federal and local law enforcement."
Wells Fargo may well have been the first bank to completely ignore the recent backlash from the anti-gun lobby.
The company has banned its clients from selling guns to people under the age of 21, forced them to require background checks for all firearm purchases, and prohibited them from selling "high-capacity magazines" and bump stocks, according to CNN.
As a result, 16 Republican congressmen are calling for the termination of Citibank’s $700 billion contract for a federal credit card program because of the company’s new gun policies.
“This flagrant disregard for American citizens and their God-given Second Amendment rights cannot be tolerated,” U.S. Representative Todd Rokita (R – Indiana) said in a statement released on his web site.
“Those who seek to undermine those God-given rights do not deserve taxpayer dollars and should be denied federal contracts. Congress has sworn to uphold the Constitution, and it is paramount that we stand united for the American people and their right to bear arms," he said.
Rokita, who was leading the charge to get the GSA to nullify Citibank’s contract, said he believed the federal government should be doing business with companies that supported the U.S. Constitution.