Postal Unions, Allies Launch ‘Campaign for Postal Banking’

January 19, 2015

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A coalition of consumer organizations, financial reform groups, faith-based organizations and workers' representatives – including the APWU and the other postal unions – announced the formation of the Campaign for Postal Banking on Jan. 19. The coalition is calling on the U.S. Postal Service to expand access to affordable financial services through its 31,000 neighborhood retail offices.

The launch of the campaign is timed to coincide with the celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the release of a report titled State of the Dream 2015: Underbanked and Overcharged.

Nearly 50 years ago, King said, “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.” His words still ring true today.

The State of the Dream 2015: Underbanked and Overcharged reports that millions of working people – 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" said APWU President Mark Dimondstein. "The average household that patronizes 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!”

The USPS is in a unique position to provide basic, affordable, consumer-driven financial services to underserved individuals and communities in neighborhoods that are often called “bank deserts,” Dimondstein pointed out. One-third of the nation’s zip codes have a post office but lack a traditional bank. The USPS has more storefronts than any other retailer.

The U.S. Postal Service is not a newcomer to banking services. From 1911 to 1967, the U.S. Post Office offered savings accounts. Today the USPS sells more money orders than any other institution. And anyone who pays for services at a postal window with a debit card is offered the option of getting cash back.

Postal systems around the world – including France, Italy, Japan, China, Brazil, India, and New Zealand – offer financial services and play an important role in advancing financial inclusion and literacy.

The Campaign for Postal Banking is dedicated to mobilizing the public to call on the Postal Service to take the necessary steps to expand postal banking at its branches across the country. Founding members include:

Alliance for Retired Americans
Americans for Financial Reform
American Postal Workers Union
Center for Study of Responsive Law
Coalition of Black Trade Unionists
Commonomics USA
Essential Information
Interfaith Worker Justice
National Association of Letter Carriers
National People’s Action
National Postal Mail Handlers Union
National Rural Letter Carriers Association
Public Citizen
United for a Fair Economy

Click here to read the press release.

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