Bank of America employees picket video teller ATMs

Bank of America employees picket video teller ATMs

A Bank of America employee has started an online petition asking the bank to stop the roll-out of video teller ATMs, saying the machines will replace well-paid branch staff with lower-wage call centre operatives.

Alex Shalom, who works behind the counter at a Bank of America branch in New York, says being a bank teller is all about building a personal connection with customers, "something that I couldn't do through a video screen".

He says: "The bank plans to pay these workers a lower wage than in-person tellers, with far fewer benefits."

Bank of America introduced its first 'Teller Assist' ATM in Boston earlier this year, and plans to roll out 150 more of the machines over the coming year. The ATMs offer customers access to staff via video between 7.00am and 10.00pm on weekdays and between 8.00am and 5.00pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

With customers increasingly using their computers, tablets and phones to access banking services, BofA CEO Brian Moynihan has said he plans to close 750 branches over the coming years.

But the plans have stirred unrest in the ranks, with branch staff fearful for their job security. The petition has so far attracted more than 1000 signatures, and Shalom has also started a picket line with other tellers at a Teller Assist machine in Manhattan.

Bank of America tried to do this a few years ago, but scrapped its plans, he says.

"It was a bad idea then, and it still is today - and we need to convince them of that," says Shalom. "The fact is that you can't downsize hands-on customer service. Bank of America's future depends on the employees who represent the bank in our communities and meet the needs of customers every day."

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