After Western Union Protest, Waiting

By The News May 16, 2007

Last week, immigration activists rallied in New York against Western Union, a company they say takes too much in profits from immigrants sending money back home, and invests very little in immigrant communities in the states. The Nation covering the protests reported:

For Mother’s Day, Martha Ugarte sent $100 from Los Angeles to her 67-year-old mother in Oaxaca, Mexico. For this, she paid $14.95 to Western Union, and lost another $2 in the exchange rate commission. It’s this 17 percent fee that has her outraged, and it explains why she decided to travel across the country to protest outside a midtown Manhattan skyscraper on May 10, where Western Union was holding its first shareholder meeting since spinning off from parent company First Data in 2006. "My father died last year, and so my mother is on her own," Ugarte says in Spanish as a mariachi band serenades the crowd of protesters and shareholders cast curious glances as they hustle inside. "Every Mother’s Day I send money home. It’s not OK that Western Union uses this opportunity to charge me such high fees and then refuses to give anything back." The geographic and ethnic diversity of the crowd of about 100 people assembled here is a testament to our increasingly globalized world. There are Somalis from North Dakota, Salvadorans and Mexicans from New York, Haitians from Florida, Filipinos from California, Kenyans from Washington, DC. All have similar complaints about Western Union. "It doesn’t cost companies a lot to send money today," explains Haiti-born Luckner Millien. "Since they depend on immigrants for their profits, it’s time that they reinvest some of that money back into our communities."

dohernandez with the Applied Research Center that collaborated with TIGRA spearheading the rally said officials in the shareholder meeting didn’t say no to their demands. But that activists will have to wait up to 100 days for a response. Read full Nation story here.