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WOCCU to lobby Polish Parliament this week
GDANSK, Poland (9/15/08)--Participants in a World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) engagement program, meeting in Poland this week to study the country's cooperatives, will advocate on behalf of what has been one of the world's fastest-growing, most successful credit union systems.
A branch of Stefczyka, Poland's largest credit union, is located in the National Association of Cooperative Savings & Credit Unions’ headquarters in Sopot. The acronym SKOK is the brand by which Polish credit unions are known. (Photo provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
Legislation hostile to financial cooperatives recently was proposed to the Polish Parliament, putting the continued growth of the country's credit union movement at risk, say Polish credit union officials. “The National Association of Cooperative Savings & Credit Unions (NACSCU) has seen its members' continued success challenged by Polish banking groups’ introduction of amendments to existing credit union laws that are hostile to the movement,” said Brian Branch, WOCCU executive vice president and chief operating officer. Branch is leading the group of U.S. credit union and league executives. “NACSCU executives have asked us to advocate on the movement's behalf in Warsaw this week,” he added. The proposed amendments seek to change Poland's credit union law, passed in 1995 at the rebirth of the Polish credit union movement. Among other issues, the amendments would end all lifetime membership provisions, requiring members to leave their credit unions if they leave employers who belong to those credit unions' fields of membership. Also, the amendments would limit credit union access to certain funding sources and reduce credit union oversight authority for NACSCU, one of WOCCU's member organizations. "This is a key moment for the Polish movement," Branch said. "If these amendments are passed, they would damage Poland's credit union system." Polish and U.S. credit union movement executives will attempt persuade lawmakers to adapt pending amendments to make them less harsh toward Polish credit unions, said Grzegorz Bierecki, NASCU president and WOCCU treasurer. Joining Branch on the engagement tour and in advocacy efforts are:
* Joe Bergeron, president, Association of Vermont Credit Unions; * Bill Cheney, president/CEO, California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues; * Barry Jolette, CEO, San Mateo CU, Redwood City, Calif., and WOCCU first vice chairman; * Jim McCormack, president, Pennsylvania Credit Union Association; * Mike Mercer, president, Georgia Credit Union Affiliates; * John Radebaugh, president, North Carolina Credit Union League; and * Mike Schenk, vice president of economics and statistics, Credit Union National Association.
The delegation of U.S. executives will meet with Polish government officials in Warsaw on Thursday. The group will also spend time with credit union and association officials in Gdansk and Krakow.
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