You might be able to send mail and do some basic financial transactions at your local post office if a proposal by the American Postal Workers Union comes to fruition.
The union is partnering with financial reform and labor organizations to launch a campaign to push the initiative, which would expand banking services beyond money orders at post offices nationwide.
The marketing push — dubbed “The Campaign for Postal Banking” — will advocate for offering these services to Americans who are facing financial challenges, may not be able to afford financial products or services, and may not have easy access to a bank.
The union believes offering these services, which include check cashing, money transfers, and low-cost bill payment, for example, will help deter Americans from relying on “expensive” and “predatory” businesses like check-cashing stores and payday lenders that often charge exorbitant fees for their services.
According to an APWU press release: “Today, 28 percent of U.S. households, representing 93 million people, do not have access to affordable financial products such as the ability to cash a check, transfer money or pay a bill at a reasonable fee. Americans who lack these services, what some call the ‘unbanked’ or the ‘underbanked,’ find that traditional banks are out of reach due to geography or because of high fees and other obstacles.”
“Much of the national debate has focused on how wages have lagged for working Americans in recent years,” said APWU President Mark Dimondstein in a statement on the union’s website. “As a society we need to find ways to boost wages and create and keep living wage jobs. … We also need to find ways to cut costs for low-wage Americans. Postal banking is a way to cut costs and put money back into the pockets of people barely getting by.”
The campaign will advocate offering these basic banking services at the USPS’s 31,000 retail branches.
Consumers spent nearly $90 billion on these services in 2012 and supporters of the plan including the inspector general believe it will greatly help the USPS overcome its financial struggles.
The inspector general’s report found that it could bring in an additional $8.9 billion in annual revenue for the agency.
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