709,401 (and Counting) Reasons to #DefendCFPB

By Sarah Lewis and Corey Klemmer

The big banks came out swinging at the beginning of the new Congress. What’s at the top of their list for 2017? Raising workers’ wages? Lowering prescription drug prices? Fighting the gender and race wage gaps? Nahh.

They’re trying to get rid of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Wall Street watchdog created after the 2008 financial crisis to protect consumers from the banks and financial institutions that brought down the economy.

We could pretend to be surprised, but considering how much good the CFPB has done for working people, it’s no surprise that Wall Street fat cats are trying to get the agency’s director fired, slash its funding or do away with it altogether.

But we’re not just going to stand by. Here are just a few of the reasons we’re going to #DefendCFPB:

1. They get that money. For you: Over its first five years of operation, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recovered $11.7 billion for consumers. In just the first quarter of 2016, enforcement efforts resulted in $24.5 million returned to more than a quarter-million consumers who had been cheated by payday lenders, debt collectors, private student lenders, auto lenders, mortgage originators and other non-bank financial companies.

2. You can complain to them. And they actually respond!: The CFPB’s job is to protect consumers and they take it seriously. Rather than relying entirely on companies to follow the rules and look out for consumers, the CFPB takes complaints directly from you, and they follow up! You actually can track the status of your complaint and look at other consumers’ complaints and experiences in the publicly available and searchable database. Since beginning operations in 2011, the CFPB has handled more than 1 million complaints from consumers of financial products and has been able to get 709,401 responses from the companies involved.

3. They took on Sallie Mae/Navient. Like for real: You might be hard-pressed to find someone with something nice to say about student loan giant Sallie Mae/Navient, and for good reason. Whether they’re cheating our soldiers or “systematically and illegally failing borrowers at every stage of repayment,” they seem to think the law doesn’t apply to them. But the CFPB isn’t having any of that: The agency helped secure a settlement for service members who’d been cheated and are currently suing Navient for creating obstacles to repayment and giving borrowers bad information. Maybe that’s why Navient’s CEO is gunning for them in the press.

4. They reined in Wells Fargo’s runaway wagon: Wells Fargo was busy in 2016. The bank opened more than 2 million fake accounts, charged student loan borrowers illegal fees and gave borrowers bad information. But the CFPB was on the case. The bank had to return the money it cheated out of consumers and pay a hefty fine.

5. They’re trying to shut down debt traps: Payday lenders offer short-term, small-dollar loans. You’ve probably heard the commercials or seen their storefronts in half-empty strip malls in small towns and near military bases. What you may not know is that those loans often come with astronomical fees and interest rates designed to trap borrowers in a lifetime of debt. The CFPB is working on rules that would make it harder for these companies to take advantage of people who just need a little extra to carry them to their next pay day. But without the CFPB, these predatory lenders will keep trapping working people in their never-ending downward spiral of debt.

6. They catch the scammers: Personal finance can be overwhelming and confusing, and there are plenty of companies out there more than willing to take advantage of that. Scammers are offering everything from student loan repayment assistance to credit card debt reduction to settlement advances. But it’s getting harder for them with the CFPB out here on our side. Just this week, the CFPB brought an enforcement action against a company that had scammed millions of dollars in settlement funds intended to cover health care costs and other compensation for 9/11 heroes and NFL concussion victims.

7. They make sure prejudice isn’t profitable: It may surprise some bankers to know that discriminating against people of color and LGBTQ people is actually illegal. But the CFPB has put them on notice by bringing enforcement actions against banks and lenders for charging higher interest rates on loans to people of color and has clarified that denying people credit based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression is unlawful under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.

The list goes on and on, but we’re running out of space and we’re running out of time. But you get the point: The CFPB is standing up for Main Street, so now Wall Street is trying to shut it down. Please join us in fighting to #DefendCFPB. Call your senator now: 1-888-789-9078.

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This was reposted from the AFL-CIO.

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From AFL-CIO

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work