NALC President Fredric Rolando has announced that the union has joined a new coalition to explore ways the U.S. Postal Service could provide affordable financial services to the tens of millions of Americans who lack access to such services.
The coalition, the Campaign for Postal Banking, is made up of consumer advocates, community groups, worker representatives, faith-based groups and civil rights organizations.
“As we celebrate the birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. today, we honor the memory of a great friend of the American labor movement,” Rolando said. “But it’s also an opportunity for us to reflect on the fact that millions of our customers—notably those in predominantly African-American and Latino communities—do not have access to affordable financial services.”
According to the latest Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) “National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked,” 28 percent of U.S. households—or nearly 100 million people—are underserved by currently available banking options. This percentage is even higher for African-American households (54 percent) and Latino households (46 percent).
“The Postal Service already provides several affordable financial services,” Rolando noted, such as money orders, Treasury check cashing and international electronic money transfers. “Not only do we as letter carriers touch every community in America, six days a week—and sometimes seven—but every community in America has at least one post office nearby, something that can’t be said about banks and other similar financial institutions.
“This coalition will help us explore opportunities to close this gap and help move millions of Americans away from payday lenders and other predatory alternative financial services,” the president said.
The Campaign for Postal Banking coalition has begun to investigate the legislative, legal and financial considerations involved in providing additional affordable financial services at post offices.
“Our nationwide post office network, combined with its highly skilled and dedicated workforce, could help solve this serious public policy problem,” Rolando said.
An overview of the problem and discussion about the potential for postal banking is included in a new report from a member of the coalition, United for A Fair Economy, titled State of the Dream 2015, Underbanked and Overcharged.