Postal Banking: An Idea Whose Time Has Come (Again)

Postal Banking: An Idea Whose Time Has Come (Again)

By Debby Szeredy, Executive Vice President/American Postal Workers Union Did you know that the United States had a successful Postal Savings System for more than fifty years? From 1911-1967, working Americans could open a savings account at their local post office, guaranteed through the full faith and credit of the United States and earning interest at 2 percent. At its height in 1947, the Savings System had $3.4 billion in assets (more than $35 billion in today’s dollars) or about 10 percent of the entire commercial banking system. Today, our country is again in great need of affordable financial services. Nearly 28 percent of U.S. households (or 100 million people) do not have access to affordable financial services. A shocking 54 percent of African-American and 47 percent of Latino households are underserved by traditional banks. For many, traditional banks are out of reach either geographically (bank deserted areas exist in both rural and urban communities), or due to high fees and other obstacles to opening, maintaining and accessing accounts. This lack of access drives millions (mainly the working poor) to rely on costly, predatory services such as check cashing and payday loans, trapping many in a cycle of debt. Each year, the average underserved household spends $2,412 — nearly 10 percent of gross income — in fees and interest for non-bank financial services. The $100 billion a year Alternative Financial Services (AFS) industry has flooded the communities where the underserved live with products, services and practices that are expensive and often predatory, with typical interest rates of 391 percent! As United for a Fair Economy puts it, “For the...
Walk in my shoes–Richard Cucarese, Steelworker and USW Local 4889 Rapid Response Coordinator, Fairless Hills, PA

Walk in my shoes–Richard Cucarese, Steelworker and USW Local 4889 Rapid Response Coordinator, Fairless Hills, PA

After a brief stint in college, I worked for a non-union employer which did not offer health insurance, raises, or a pension. There was no security to be had, whatsoever. Looking for more stability, I applied for a job at the United States Steel, Fairless Works, and received my first taste of the union experience. The most I’d understood about unions was conveyed by certain members of my family, and theirs was not a positive reaction. Instead of the “lazy, overpaid, unskilled workforce” that was articulated by them and others in my surrounding area, I found a very skilled and educated workforce. They were a hard-working group and very dedicated to producing top quality steel. I was also very impressed when they spoke about their Collective Bargaining achievements at the Local and International level in the areas of safety, pensions and benefits for their members and their families. The members of Local 4889 were very involved in the community, and very informed with the political issues that affected our area. Unfortunately, during the turbulent times of the 1980’s, when many steel plants were crippled by the illicit dumping of foreign steel on our shores, thousands of our brothers and sisters were forced out of work. The majority of our plant was shuttered and many, including myself had to find work elsewhere. For over ten years, elsewhere meant very inferior paying jobs with no benefits, no pensions or 401K plans for their workforce. It also meant dealing with taskmaster bosses who had no regard for the health, welfare, or safety of their workers. In 2005, my wife lost her job...
Spotlight the Label–SIU

Spotlight the Label–SIU

The Seafarers International Union, Atlantic, Gulf, Lakes and Inland Waters, AFL-CIO, represents professional United States merchant mariners sailing aboard U.S.-flag vessels in the deep sea, Great Lakes and inland trades. SIU members sail in the three shipboard departments: deck, engine and steward. They work aboard a wide variety of vessels, including commercial containerships and tankers, military support ships, tugboats and barges, passenger ships, gaming vessels and many more. Chartered in 1938, the SIU prides itself on representing the best-trained, most efficient crews in the world. A key to meeting that standard is the Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education, located in Piney Point, Md. The center is a vocational training facility operated by an SIU-affiliated entity. Today, the SIU is the largest North American union representing merchant mariners. It is a dynamic, politically active organization dedicated to protecting the membership’s job security by constantly staying a step ahead of the ever-changing needs of the...

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