It’s better late than never but why did it take major postal labor unions nearly a year to sign on with the idea of having the U.S. Postal Service begin offering banking services to the poor and underserved?
But the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), National Association of Letter Carriers and similar groups finally joined this coalition http://www.apwu.org/news/press-release/new-coalition-%E2%80%98campaign-postal-banking%E2%80%99-launches-strong-support-financial-reform.
In January, 2014 the office of the USPS Inspector General recommended that the postal service begin offering financial services to as many as 68 million people who typically don’t have access to conventional banking services in their neighborhoods. Too often, these people are forced to rely on such abusive and exorbitant operations as payday lenders and pawn shops https://www.uspsoig.gov/sites/default/files/document-library-files/2014/rarc-wp-14-007.pdf.
These labor groups and other supporters probably lost precious time to lobby Congress and the public behind such a project that could benefit vast numbers of economically advantaged people. Other participants include the Alliance for Retired Americans, Center for Study of Responsive Law, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists and Public Citizen.
By offering these services through its extensive number of post offices the USPS could increase its annual revenue by $8.9 billion per year, the Inspectors said.
Offering such services would provide the USPS with badly needed new revenue at a time when Congress just seems to showing a good deal of apathy and/or deliberate disregard about fiscally reinforcing the postal service.
On the face of it getting approval for such an endeavor was long shot anyway given strong opposition from the all-powerful and financial banking lobbies.
In fact, it was opposition from banks that caused Congress to direct the then-U.S. Post Office Department to discontinue offering postal savings accounts in 1967.
Will the newly elected Republican-controlled Congress be any more amenable toward signing off on anything the banks oppose?
Going forward, it’s possible that proponents of postal banking may get some additional support from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) who’s well known for championing financial reform for the middle class and opposing Wall Street excesses.
Last Spring on her blog, the Senator detailed her support for this proposal, according to the Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/elizabeth-warren/coming-to-a-post-office-n_b_4709485.html.
One can only hope that the unions’ endorsement of postal banking might lend some momentum to this movement. Maybe these efforts will lead to greater public awareness of and action on this issue. Public pressure can sometimes affect USPS decisions.
For example, the USPS may well have taken the main post office in Berkeley, CA off the selling block, according to the Berkeleydailyplanet.com http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2015-01-23/article/42963?headline=The-USPS-claims-historic-Berkeley-Post-Office-is-no-longer-for-sale–.
If so, this would represent a victory for local activists, the National Post Office Collaborate and other groups intent on preserving the postal service and its traditions. These actions also help thwart the USPS’s efforts to further downsize and deprive people and businesses of necessary services.
But, as longtime consumer and public activist Ralph Nader warned locals last summer, this fight is far from over.