Letter: Umatilla cash advance fee too high
"There will be a special General Council meeting for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation at 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15, in the conference room of the Yellowhawk Tribal Health Center.

The only issue on the agenda will be the employees' 10 percent cash advance fee policy. Tribal administration/enterprise employees can obtain cash advances of up to $300 every two weeks, which are deducted from their next paycheck with a service fee of 10 percent. It is my position the double-digit fee is excessive and 5 percent or 3 percent, is workable.

It is easy for those who make $60,000 or more annually to say employees do not have to take an advance. But after paying the rent of $440 or more and covering necessary living needs, including children's expenses, on wages of $8.50 per hour, many times there just isn't any money left. So many have no choice but to take cash advances.

As a former cashier at Arrowhead Truck Stop, where the advances are made, I am very well aware that for many employees this is a never-ending cycle of debt and frustration. It is obvious that employees at the lower end of the pay scale are being financially exploited and taken advantage of. Lowering the fee will not, of course, be the complete solution to debt but there is no question it will help.

It is a weak argument to "justify" the 10 percent rate because it is less than what other lenders charge. These are our tribe's very own employees, many who have served loyally and diligently for years and there is no integrity in financially taking advantage of them, whether they are tribal members or not. It is not like they are strangers who come in off the street. The 10 percent fee contradicts our traditional tribal values of integrity, fairness, and compassion."

Get the Story:
Bob Shippentower: Tribe's cash advance charge is too high (The East Oregonian 10/10)