(Update: Adding Wells Fargo comment)

The American Federation of Teachers said Thursday it is dropping Wells Fargo as a recommended mortgage lender to its 1.7 million members because of the bank’s continued involvement with gun manufacturers and the National Rifle Association.

The second-largest teachers union in the country said its president, Randi Weingarten, asked Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan on April 6 to meet to discuss the matter but received no response. Some 20,000 of the union’s members now hold mortgages through Wells Fargo in a special program that historically has added 1,600 a year.

Weingarten sent Sloan a letter Thursday saying her union “can only assume” that the bank “has decided that the NRA business is more valuable to you than students and educators are.” As of Thursday, she said, the union widely known by the acronym AFT would no longer offer or promote the Wells Fargo mortgage program.

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Kurt Schroeder, senior vice president and head of home lending communications for Wells Fargo, said in a statement:

Wells Fargo takes great pride in supporting teachers and their families, and in 2017 alone, we provided nearly $70 million in education-related contributions across the nation. We remain deeply committed to the financial success of teachers and all of our customers. Wells Fargo wants schools and communities to be safe from gun violence, but changes to laws and regulations should be determined through a legislative process that gives the American public an opportunity to participate. We remain firm in our belief that the American public does not want banks to decide which legal products consumers can and cannot buy.

The union’s move came on the same day it was revealed that federal regulators were preparing to fine Wells Fargo about $1 billion for misbehavior in its auto and mortgage markets, according to The Washington Post.

In an April 3 letter to Weingarten, Sloan wrote, “We believe that the best way to make progress on the complex issues concerning gun violence is through the political and legislative process in which all citizens have the opportunity to participate.” He said the bank would open a conversation with the AFT about the issue, but that never happened.

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Since the Feb. 14 shooting deaths of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., gun-control advocates have pressured businesses to cut ties with gunmakers and the gun lobby, or to make it harder for young people to legally buy guns.

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Several businesses responded. In March, Citigroup became the first bank on Wall Street to impose restrictions on the sales of firearms by its business clients. The policy prohibits those clients from selling firearms to customers under the age of 21 and those who have not passed a background check. Walmart, L.L. Bean and Dick’s Sporting Goods raised the minimum age for guns sales to 21 years old. REI said it would stop ordering products from Vista Outdoor until that company changes its firearm policies.

(Correction: An earlier version gave an incorrect number of union members who hold home mortages through the Wells Fargo program associated with the AFT.  The correct number is more than 20,000.)

Here’s the AFT letter, and below that is Sloan’s April 3 letter to Weingarten:

And here’s the letter from Sloan to Weingarten:
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