UFE on Labor Lines Radio

Postal banking gained more widespread attention when Sen. Bernie Sanders endorsed it, but activists for economic equality and those fighting privatization of the postal service have long advocated its merits. Mike Leyba, director of communications for United for a Fair Economy and principal author of State of the Dream 2015: Underbanked and Overcharged discusses why some Americans don’t have access to major banks and how this will help them. 

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Big Banks' Worst Nightmare

From personal experience, I know that when you're outside of the banking system, things get expensive. I would cash a paycheck (for a fee), buy a money order at a supermarket to pay rent (for a fee), put money on a reloadable debit card (for a fee). When you're making every dollar stretch, fees make a big difference. 

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7 Reasons Postal Banking Just Makes Sense

Nearly 28 percent of U.S. households (or 100 million people) are either unbanked or underbanked. This lack of access to affordable financial services drives the working poor to rely on costly, and often predatory, alternatives. But what if a trusted, accessible, and secure government agency (that receives no tax dollars for operating expenses) with the world’s largest retail network existed that could help fill this void? It does exist. It’s the U.S. Postal Service.

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An Idea We Can Get Behind: Postal Banking

At the Democratic debate, Bernie Sanders famously suggested that the only way to fix our country was with a political revolution. He suggested that in order to get our country back on track, millions of people would need to take to the streets and demand that the government return to its mission of helping people, not corporations. And by all these measures, one of his ideas would revolutionize the way people interact with our economy: postal banking. 

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Elizabeth Warren's tribute to Black Lives Matter

"Economic justice is not - and has never been - sufficient to ensure racial justice. Owning a home won't stop someone from burning a cross on the front lawn. Admission to a school won't prevent a beating on the sidewalk outside. But when Dr. King led hundreds of thousands of people to march on Washington, he talked about an end to violence, access to voting AND economic opportunity. As Dr. King once wrote, "the inseparable twin of racial injustice was economic injustice."

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Save the Date: Liberation Economics

Para leer en español, presione aquí.

Photo courtesy of Kris Krüg

SAVE THE DATE | October 22 – 25, 2015

United for a Fair Economy is excited to premier LIBERATION ECONOMICS, an advanced training for experienced facilitators! 
For 20 years UFE has facilitated hundreds of workshops and trainings on Popular Economics Education around the country. This year UFE is honored to partner with the Highlander Center and Equipo Maiz from El Salvador to provide an advanced training for experienced organizers and facilitators.  It will explore the role of story telling and education in movement building, tools for facilitating conversations on capitalism in interactive ways, and the role of language justice in the fight for a fair economy.  Mark your calendars!
 
WHERE: 
The Highlander Center in New Market, Tennessee.
 
TRAINERS:
This Institute will be led by UFE's Education Team: Jeannette Huezo, Riahl O’Malley, and Steve Schnapp along with guest trainers from Equipo Maiz and Highlander Center.

The TOT Institute will be fully bilingual in English and Spanish.  Please contact us at the email below to inquire about participating in another language.
 
FOCUS: 
•  Exploring the intersection of class, race, and gender inequities and their relationship to our current economic system: capitalism.
•  Addressing the consequences of economic and social inequality through popular education and movement building.
•  Language justice as an essential piece of building a cross-class, multi-racial movement for economic equity.
 
REGISTRATION:
•  Online registration will open in August 2015. (Save the date and stay tuned!)
•  Institute fee is based on a sliding scale ($500 – $1,500), which includes all materials as well as room and board. Transportation to Tennessee is not included. 
•  Limited scholarship available, based on ability to pay.
• 
 Space is very limited and preference will be given to those who have previously attended one of United for a Fair Economy's Training of Trainers.
 
FOR MORE INFO:
Email Riahl O’Malley (romalley@faireconomy.org), Steve Schnapp (sschnapp@faireconomy.org) or Jeannette Huezo (jhuezo@faireconomy.org). 

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Shirley Pryce: UFE Ambassador

“I have a philosophy: When others say no, I say yes.” Expressed by Shirley Pryce, this statement could not be more accurate.

Shirley finishes her internship at United for a Fair Economy this week. As sad as we are to see her go, she has promised to be a “UFE Ambassador,” taking all she has learned back home to Jamaica.

For over 30 years, Shirley was a domestic worker in Jamaica. She was badly abused. There was nowhere to go to protest, except for the Ministry of Labor, where the large number of cases made filing a complaint unproductive. She needed help.

After attending a workshop for domestic workers, she was motivated, along with other participants, to form the Jamaica Household Workers’ Association. She wanted to advocate for people in her situation; “I don’t want another domestic worker to go through that.” Shirley is currently the fifth President of the organization, vigorously leading the fight for the rights of domestic workers. 

When Shirley became president, membership was extremely low, and the organization was told to close down. Shirley took it upon herself to recruit members. She knew where to go. Early in the morning and late at night, she went to bus stops to invite domestic workers to become part of the organization, as well as leaving flyers in letterboxes and ATM machines. Her strategies worked. Doubtful as many people were, her organization became a union in 2013, and is now powerful and respected. Shirley’s attitude toward their negativity: “If you say it can’t happen, I’m going to do it.”

Now, Shirley is getting her Master’s degree in Global Workers’ Rights at Penn State University. She is the only organizer in the program, gladly representing domestic workers around the world. At first, Shirley resisted doing her internship at UFE, hoping instead to work with a union. Now, she raves about her experience here. 

Shirley took part in UFE’s Popular Economics Training in May. She explains that popular education is special. Trainings are typically top-down, but UFE’s model works to change things from the bottom up. It is interactive, realistic, and understandable. That, she says, is powerful.

“It pains my heart to leave UFE,” Shirley said, “a small organization with a big vision.” But she is going back home to put what she has learned into practice. She aims to spread UFE’s work, “not only in Jamaica, not only in the Caribbean, but across the world, to show people it’s a different way of doing your training.”

Shirley’s next step is to set up a Domestic Workers’ Training Institute in Jamaica. Most domestic workers do not have the resources to train themselves, and this school will be designed to fit their needs and schedule. This training is crucial to the empowerment and respect Shirley works to achieve. 

Shirley is also a founding member of the Caribbean Domestic Workers’ Network and the International Domestic Workers’ Federation. All over the Caribbean, she is lobbying for governments to adopt the Domestic Worker Convention, which she was instrumental in passing 4 years ago in Geneva.

“We are all doing the same thing: fighting for domestic workers’ rights, fighting for empowerment of domestic workers, fighting to get the convention ratified, fighting for respect. That’s what we do. Daily. Hourly. Minutely. My life is fighting for workers’ rights.”

 

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Leading the Way on Language Justice

As an economic justice organization we recognize that language is power.  The language of economics is used to distort, deceive and distract when people are suffering from things like poverty wages or unemployment.  A big part of popular economics education involves breaking through the jargon so we are not fooled by the language of so-called experts.  At United for a Fair Economy, language justice is integrally tied to our work.

It continues today and it is these dynamics of power that language justice seeks to address.  In their Language Justice Statement, Wayside Center for Popular Education explains: 

“Language is power. Language can determine whether a person or a community has access to—or is shut out from—decision-making processes and persons, resources, information, and services…The goal of language justice work is relatively straightforward: language access as the great equalizer. It promotes autonomy and self-determination by making sure that everyone’s voice is heard and that all of the transmitted information is relayed…It teaches that interpretation is not in the service of the non-English speakers but rather for everyone that does not share a common language.” 

The emerging field of social justice language work goes by many names in English: language justice, multilingual capacity building, language access, language work, social justice interpreting, multilingual justice, etc. Whatever you call it, the central idea uniting all of this work is a power analysis around language as something that can exclude, include, or transform. Historically, English language dominance is an axis of power in U.S. society (for example, the language of economics can be used to maintain or deepen wealth inequality), but we have the power to change this from the grassroots.

That's why we're excited to present a workshop titled "Multilingual Justice: Beyond Translation" at this year's Netroots Nation conference. This is one of the largest gatherings of progressive people and organizations in the country. On Friday Morning our Executive Director Jeannette Huezo, and our friend Tony Macias will be presenting on this important topic. All information about our presentation can be found here. We hope to see you there!

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We Stand with Charleston

We at United for a Fair Economy would like to send our deepest condolences to the families of those killed in South Carolina.  We are saddened not only by this act of terrorism and hate, but by the system that enables such violence to take place.  This is not an isolated act, but a continuation of a long history of violence carried against black people.

The same system that has tragically ended so many black lives is the system that produces economic inequality.  In a funeral service following the bombing of a Birmingham church in 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. said, "[the victims] say to each of us, black and white alike, that we must substitute courage for caution. They say to us that we must be concerned not merely about who murdered them, but about the system, the way of life and the philosophy which produced the murders." Today, for every dollar of wealth held by white families, the average black family holds only six cents. The one-percent owns 40% of the wealth in this country the poorest 90% shares only 23% of the wealth. While so many families are struggling for their very survival the one-percent are making record profits.  These systems, of state-sponsored violence and economic inequality, are one in the same. We cannot address one without the other.

We believe strongly in the power of social movements fighting against racism, inequality and oppression.  The organizers and activists leading the #blacklivesmatter movement and service and fast food workers fighting for $15 dollars and the right to join a union, black people and their allies, both non-black people of color and white people, are taking action against our country's long history of violence and exploitation.  May there be justice for families in Charleston who have lost their loved ones and may those of us fighting for justice strengthen our resolve and take bold action in the struggle against racism and oppression.


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Let's Stamp Out Payday Lending

Today the Office of the Inspector General for the Post Office is releasing their recommendations and opinions on Postal Banking and AFS as a follow up to their paper in 2014. We are excited to read the report, and to be a part of the conversation on how the Post Office can be a positive vehicle for enveloping the unbanked into the financial system. 

 

This year's State of the Dream Report, Underbanked and Overcharged, found that people of color and the working poor are being taken advantage of to the tune of $103 Billion per year. That report can be found here.


At United for a Fair Economy, we think this is a unique opportunity to engage in a conversation about the vision for what a Fair Economy is, and how a return to Postal Banking could be a positive step toward that vision we all share.

 

Please join us, and the rest of the Campaign for Postal Banking to push for a bold solution to this serious problem. Let’s create a system that works for all, no matter what your account balance is.

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