How Wells Fargo is Holding One Minnesota Family Back.

Minnesota security officer James Matias has worked at the same job for seven years.

It’s a good thing because James has a lot of responsibilities. He and his wife have been blessed with six children.“Five of them are still at home,” James says. “They’re great kids. My daughter plays basketball. My son plays football. And my other son is a dancer in a conservatory.”

Study after study shows that when children are involved in extra-curricular activities, they learn how to succeed—not just in sports or the arts, but in life. James will do whatever it takes to give his children a chance to succeed.

He and his wife have tried to save. “It’s been our struggle just to put five bucks away here and there,” James says. “But the ends just don’t meet so we end up using the money we save up.”

So James has been forced to resort to direct deposit advances at Wells Fargo—which has $1.4 trillion in assets.    “To pay my Wells Fargo direct deposit advances, they’ve taken out $100 from my checks every month,” James says. You can add James to the list of customers, mortgage payers, taxpayers, and workers who combine to provide Wells Fargo with all that wealth.

But after helping to make Wells Fargo and its CEO John Stumpf very rich—Stumpf is paid $20 million a year, which amounts to $9600 an hour, which is 661 times more than James is paid for protecting the public—there’s not much left over for James and his family.

Remember when you were a kid and you got the school supply list in the mail in late summer? Remember the excitement? The promise of a new year? The possibilities?

It’s different for James. “It upsets me to get that list,” he says. “It gets to the point where I just say ‘I’m gonna get my own list.’ I have to think, if they are using it once or twice, I can’t get it. I have three different lists to deal with and I get upset because I know my paycheck can’t cover it. It hurts.”

Right now buying a home and living the American Dream seem out of reach. “We’ve been trying to buy a home but we haven’t been able to get credit,” James says.

That’s why James has joined with 2,000 fellow Minnesota security officers to negotiate with their employers to create better, family-sustaining jobs in the Twin Cities security industry. For James the future of his family is at stake. “Not only am I trying to provide for my family, my 21-year-old son is also a security officer,” James says.

But James knows that the problems Minnesota faces go well beyond security officers. And security officers cannot solve the state’s problems by themselves.

Now security officers are joining with tens of thousands of members of Minnesota’s community, faith-based, environmental, student, and labor organizations to propose measures that Wells Fargo, Target, and USBank must take to strengthen Minnesota’s middle class—immediately.

“These rich companies have a huge responsibility in what’s going on,” James says. “If they don’t open up their eyes, our society will be split so far between the rich and the poor that our communities will fail.”

As always, Officer James Matias stands ready to protect his community.


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