July 18, 2024

PNC Bank at Cabin John Village, Potomac, MD

In October of 2021, PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. announced the completion of an $11.6 billion conversion, transitioning 2.6 million customers, 9,000 employees, and nearly 600 branches across seven states from BBVA USA to PNC. This event exemplifies the concentration and centralization of capital, which amasses vast amounts of wealth in the hands of a select few. In both banking and industry, this concentration fosters monopolies. Banks play a pivotal role in accelerating the consolidation of capital and the formation of monopolies. Consequently, the concentration and centralization of capital exacerbate class divisions, widening the gap between the exploiter minority and the exploited majority in society.

An illustration of the deepening class divide emerges in the context of PNC’s acquisition of BBVA. Employees at a PNC branch in Northwest Florida have voiced their concerns to the New Worker regarding annual evaluations, referred to as the Customer Experience Index (CXI). This evaluation, supposedly designed to gauge customer satisfaction, actually serves as a tool for the company to enhance productivity, instill competition among workers, and enforce a “pay for performance” system. It pressures employees to generate more profit under the guise of performance ratings that the company can then manipulate to attribute losses to workers who “fail to meet expectations.” This mechanism conveniently facilitates cost-cutting measures for the company while disproportionately burdening the workers.

The CXI essentially allows the consumer to rate the worker. At PNC, workers receive ratings categorized as green (Significantly Exceeds Expectations), yellow (Meets Some Expectations), or red (Does Not Meet Expectations). These ratings assess the workers’ job responsibilities, including operational involvement, cash handling, customer satisfaction (including response to complaints), and customer base growth. However, circumstances beyond their control may prevent them from achieving a good rating. For instance, some workers often find themselves as the sole teller during a shift, making them susceptible to poor customer service ratings. Technical glitches in banking software like Edge (formerly Genesis), a recurring issue according to PNC employees, can also unfairly impact worker ratings. Recent closures of PNC branches have led to increased traffic at nearby branches [1] and a surge in transactions. With insufficient staffing, employees become overwhelmed by the higher workload, facing consequences for economic circumstances beyond their control.

In certain branches, a panel consisting of the Teller Lead, Assistant Manager, and Branch Manager conducts reviews of a worker’s CXI rating. Without union representation, the worker faces what amounts to a trial by this panel. In an interview with a PNC bank teller, the employee described feeling reduced to a mere number by the rating system, highlighting its dehumanizing effects. They shed light on a prevailing fear among coworkers that the bank could exploit these ratings to cut costs by denying wage increases. Further, the teller described a dark atmosphere where even managers struggle with the emotional toll of reprimanding workers who fall short on the CXI, with some employees catching them crying outside afterward.

Each PNC branch sets specific goals that every banker must meet, irrespective of staffing levels. If one banker leaves or the bank terminates their employment, the remaining bankers must shoulder a heavier workload to meet these goals, forcing some bankers to deal with upwards of 200 calls in a week to fulfill sales targets. The stress and burnout experienced by bank workers reflect a global phenomenon driven by the competitive DNA of capitalism, leading to fierce competition between national and international banks exacerbated by interventions sought by capitalist states. The bottom line is that workers face unemployment, increased precariousness, and an intensified volume of work. The banks’ strategies to provide a greater diversity of services and products alongside transferring more services to the clients themselves, such as digital forms of banking, have placed bank employees at the mercy of “meeting the bank’s targets.”

To grasp this situation, we can observe that in our time, the last and most parasitic phase of capitalist society, the prevalence of monopolies transforms the competitive landscape into a ruthless and predatory arena, where workers bear the brunt of the impact. Monopolies employ aggressive tactics such as coercion, bribery, blackmail, and intricate financial maneuvers, often leveraging state power. While the dominance of monopolies fosters greater socialization of production, the benefits of this process accrue disproportionately to a select few, leaving the rest of the population subject to their oppressive rule.

Juxtaposed to this distorted portrayal of “freedom and liberty” is a glimmer of hope. As production becomes increasingly concentrated in workplaces, so does the working class, fostering solidarity among workers and their organizations in the fight against capital. However, we can achieve true victory only through the guidance of a reconstituted communist party. Only with such leadership can we abolish this state of affairs and pave the way for a future free from dehumanizing labor.

1. PNC branch closures in 2023: here is the full list. https://en.as.com/latest_news/pnc-branch-closures-in-2023-here-is-the-full-list-n/