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Bank protest one of many across the state

by: Tyler Graf

Outside the US Bank branch in St. Helens, Nathan Dellelo signs an open letter to U.S. Bancorp calling for the financial institution, the fifth largest commercial bank in the United States, to cease its policy of charging fees to the unemployed through its ReliaCard system. He's flanked by other protesters, primarily members of the Service Employees International Union.

The St. Helens protest, which featured a handful of picketers, was one of 14 that took place across the state on March 17.

Their reason for picketing the bank was due to what the protesters considered unfair fee-gathering practices.

Through a partnership with the state of Oregon, US Bank's ReliaCard allows the unemployed to directly deposit their unemployment benefits onto a VISA debit card. It's also used for child support payments.

Lisa Donoho, an organizer with SEIU Local 503, said the problem is that the cards charge high fees when customers use them consistently.

Each month, after the second cash withdrawal from a US Bank ATM, the customer is charged a $1.50 fee for every subsequent use. That fee is increased to $3 per month for teller withdrawals.