Oakland Western Union called us in Toronto to let us know that they are NOT ready to sit down directly and meet with ACORN International and its federated organizations. Hardly a surprise, but nonetheless a disappointment at the arrogance of entrenched financial services companies and their resistance to changing predatory practices.
After my last blog on Western Union a friend sent me a clip on a documentary that he has been working on in recent years involving cybercrime and I watched a woman weeping outside of Houston who had been conned out of job desperation to mule money via Western Union and Money Gram to cyber crooks in the Ukraine. Watching I could only think, hey, given all these money transfer organizations have to hide, why would they want transparency on costs and just pricing? Our migrant workers and immigrant families are small fry with their couple of hundred dollars they are sending to their families compared to these $3000, $5000, and more licks where Western Union offers bargain rates. Ridiculous!
It was good to catch up with Francis Calpotura, executive director of TIGRA, the Transnational Institute for Grassroots Research & Action, who has offered steady encouragement and advice on ACORN International’s Remittance Justice Campaign. He is on his way to the Philippines, which continues to lead the way for developing countries to protect their migrant workers and advance their own development. In a new agreement they are trying to negotiate their representatives would be able to 15 or more minutes at the back end of the required briefing given to workers before receiving their visas to travel and earn wages aboard.
Francis hopes in the next month to nail down the details and has plans to open an office in Manila to help coordinate what would be required to do twice daily briefings with thousands of workers every month. This is an exciting development that we will try to extend to the program involving Mexico and Canada and the movement of seasonal agricultural workers who are being exploited on remittances and other issues as well.
Later in the day I briefed the chief executive of Credomobile on the issues involving remittances and the role played by Western Union and others. He was anxious to read the reports and see how we might be able to do more to raise the issue and seek justice in the United States where the company is headquartered.
As we always say, you can take the hard road or the easy road, but either way we’re going to the same place. There’s no way to run from doing right on this issue.