Statement by APWU President Mark Dimondstein on Campaign for Postal Banking and State of the Dream Report: Underbanked and Overcharged
01/19/2015 - As we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. today, it is important to remember that the fight for civil rights included a call for economic justice. Nearly 50 years later, economic injustice is still the reality for the vast majority of working people in the United States – and perhaps most intensely for people of color. What King pointed out then still rings true today: “Most people feel that all of the poverty-stricken people are people who are out of jobs. The fact is that more than half of poverty stricken people in our country are working every day, but earning so little that they cannot function meaningfully in society, and cannot purchase the basic necessities of life.“
As “State of the Dream 2015: Underbanked and Overcharged” so powerfully explains, millions of working people – and disproportionately people of color – lack access to quality, affordable banking services. This forces them to rely on costly, predatory check cashing companies and payday lenders, trapping many in a cycle of debt. The average household that must rely on these “legal loan sharks” has an annual income of about $25,500 and spends $2,412 each year just on interest and fees – nearly 10 percent of their income!
One innovative idea for expanding access to reasonably-priced financial services is to provide them via the existing infrastructure of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). The USPS is a trusted, accessible, and secure government agency (that receives no tax dollars for operating expenses) with the world’s largest retail network. That network includes 31,000 neighborhood offices, serving every urban, suburban, and rural community in the country.
The American Postal Workers Union is honored to be working with United for a Fair Economy and a growing coalition of consumer, worker, financial reform, economic justice, community, civic, and faith-based organizations. The Campaign for Postal Banking is building a movement to mobilize the public to call on the United States Postal Service to take the necessary steps to restore and expand postal banking at its offices across the country.