Workers United Has
an Alter Ego

Workers United is one of today's most visible labor unions, backing high-profile organizing drives by appealing to young workers' progressive values. But the union could be better described as a Progressive Poser than the social justice warrior it makes itself out to be.

The Facts

Workers United is the largest shareholder of “union controlled” Amalgamated Bank, and is frequently described as its majority owner given its unique control of the bank.

Both Workers United and the Bank have put forth an image of progressive values and social responsibility. This image has helped Workers United popularize some of its major organizing campaigns, including efforts to organize baristas throughout the country.

But the following reports show evidence of questionable leadership and hypocritical investments in industries – including fossil fuels, tobacco, gun manufacturing, and more – that the union and bank have opposed.

Research also suggests the Bank has fallen short of its progressive commitments to minority and low- and moderate-income communities, especially in the state of New York—where Workers United is most active.

Get the full reports complete with sourcing and methodology below.

Progressive Posers: Workers United and a History of Hypocritical Investments.

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Connection Between Workers United and Amalgamated Bank

Amalgamated Bank was created by the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America – the predecessor to Workers United – in 1923.  Today, Workers United owns over 40% of "union controlled" Amalgamated bank, and is frequently described as its majority owner given its unique control of the bank. Workers United’s common stock majority stake allows them to nominate the Chair of the Board of Directors, as well as four additional board members.

Top officials at Workers United also hold leadership positions at Amalgamated Bank.

Fossil Fuels

Amalgamated Bank reported investments to the SEC of 9,930,216 shares of fossil fuel-based companies worth over $700 million according to the Dec. 31, 2022, 13F-HR.

In 2020, Amalgamated Bank issued a press release claiming that banks had invested nearly $2 trillion in fossil fuels since the Paris Climate Accords in 2015. Amalgamated Bank used this information as a sales pitch and told potential customers to move to a bank that is “explicitly aligned with your values.”

However, Amalgamated Bank also reported an increase in 13F-HR investments in Exxon to the SEC during this time period.

Private Prisons

Amalgamated Bank has SEC-reported investments of thousands of shares of the two largest private prison operators in the country: CoreCivic and GEO Group. The Bank reports investments to the SEC of 108,166 shares of private prison stocks worth over $1 million according to the Dec. 31, 2022, 13F-HR.

GEO Group and CoreCivic hold a significant number of immigrants awaiting deportation. Both companies have also been accused of profiting from former President Trump’s family separation policy.

In 2019, major banks – including Wells Fargo, SunTrust, Bank of America, BNP ParibasBarclays and Fifth Third Bank Corp – announced they would stop financing private prison companies after reports of abusive and dangerous conditions in for-profit prisons and detention centers spurred public condemnation.

Crowd Control

Amalgamated Bank reported investments to the SEC in Cadre Holdings and Axon Enterprise. Cadre Holdings is a company that provides tear gas and other crowd control measures to police officers around the United States. Products by Cadre Holdings subsidiary, Safariland/Defense Technology, have allegedly been used on protesters in Ferguson, MO. Axon Enterprise supplies law enforcement officials around the country with tasers and other equipment.

Amalgamated Bank has SEC-reported investments of 54,627 shares of crowd control companies worth over $8 million according to the Dec. 31, 2022, 13F-HR.

Guns and Ammo

Amalgamated Bank reported investments to the SEC in several gun and ammunition manufacturers, including Smith & Wesson, Sturm Ruger, The Olin Corporation, and Ammo Inc.

The Bank reports investments to the SEC of 139,626 shares of Guns and Ammunition stock worth over $6 million according to the Dec. 31, 2022, 13F-HR.


Amalgamated Bank reports investments to the SEC of 872,066 shares of tobacco stocks worth over $60 million as of December 31, 2022.

Socially Irresponsible? How Workers United and its Bank Failed Minority and Low Income Communities

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Two Times More Likely to Deny Black Applicants for Mortgages vs. White Applicants

From 2014-2021, Amalgamated Bank’s average mortgage denial rate to Black applicants was over twice that of White applicants.



Poor Track Record on Mortgage Loans to Low-Income Borrowers

New York/New Jersey Metro Area

In 2011, 2012, and 2013, Amalgamated Bank failed to report any loans to low-income borrowers according to New York State's Community Reinvestment Act Performance Evaluation.

In 2013 and 2017, the evaluation rated Amalgamated Bank’s lending to low-and moderate-income borrowers as “Need to Improve.”

In 2018, Amalgamated Bank was assessed by the to have below-average lending to low- and moderate-income borrowers.

Washington DC Metro Area

In 2010, Amalgamated Bank only originated two 1-4 family loans and they were both to upper- income borrowers in the region.

In 2018, 2019, and 2020, Amalgamated Bank did not originate a single 1-4 family home mortgage loan to low-income borrowers in the region.


In 2014, Amalgamated Bank’s lending was rated as “substantial noncompliance” for failing to lend to low-income borrowers.

In 2018, 2019, and 2020, Amalgamated Bank failed to originate any 1-4 family loans among low- income borrowers.


In 2014, Amalgamated Bank’s Nevada lending was deemed to be of “substantial noncompliance” for poor lending to low-and moderate-income borrowers.

Branch Closings and Poor Service to Low-Income Communities

Amalgamated Bank has shuttered locations in low-income or underserved communities and has been criticized for only having branches and ATMs in upper-income areas. This behavior led to a protest in a West Bronx neighborhood in New York City after Amalgamated closed its only branch in the area.

The Leadership

Slide 1

Jaz Brisack

Jaz Brisack is a high-profile organizer for Starbucks Workers United. Brisack has used disturbing language to describe the country of Israel and has even defended a convicted Palestinian terrorist in a letter to the editor, referring to her as a “freedom fighter.”

In 2017, Brisack penned a letter to the editor defending Rasmea Odeh – a convicted terrorist. Odeh was sentenced to two life terms in prison for her involvement in two separate bombings, one at a Jerusalem supermarket and one at the British consulate. Brisack wrote, “When we stand up for Rasmea Odeh, we contribute to the fight for justice. We celebrate the resilience, strength and determination that Odeh embodies.” Brisack went on to argue that Israel was guilty of “apartheid” and said Palestinians are “regularly shot in the streets.” She has also supported the anti-Israel boycott, divest, sanction movement.

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