MADISON, Wis. (10/17/13)--Credit Union National Association President/CEO Bill Cheney and CUNA Chair Pat Wesenberg emphasized the importance of spreading the Don't Tax My Credit Union message Wednesday in comments at a meeting with CUNA employees in Madison, Wis.
| CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney told CUNA employees in Madison, Wis., that credit unions are in "once in a generation" battle with banks over the credit union tax status.|
Cheney and Wesenberg just returned from a World Council of Credit Unions meeting in Australia, where credit unions are taxed. Cheney and Wesenberg said the message from Australian credit unions was clear: U.S. credit unions should fight to retain their current tax status.
"Credit unions and banks that used to be called credit unions told us, 'Whatever you do, don't lose that battle; whatever you do, don't lose that battle. You've got to win,'" Cheney said. "'Once you lose, it's never the same again.'"
Much of the credit union culture has been lost in Australia, Cheney said. Most of Australia's largest credit unions have converted to banks. The former credit union association is now known as the Customer Owned Banking Association.
| CUNA Chair Pat Wesenberg, president/CEO of Central City CU, Marshfield, Wis., urged CUNA employees to continue to spread the Don't Tax My CU message to member credit unions during her comments at CUNA headquarters in Madison Wis. (CUNA photos)|
"Can you imagine if we changed the name of the Credit Union National Association to the Customer Owned Banking Association in the United States?" Cheney said.
Wesenberg, president/CEO Central City CU, Marshfield, Wis., stressed the importance of CUNA employees continuing to emphasize the Don't Tax My CU message in their day-to-day work with credit unions.
"Anything that you can do to help get the message out, even if it's on a personal level, such as sending an e-mail to five of your contacts, asking them to reach out to their legislators, those efforts make a big difference," Wesenberg said.
Cheney also offered an overview of the tax reform as it relates to the U.S. government furlough and the debt ceiling debate.
"The concern is out of that will come sort of grand bargain," Cheney said. "And the banks see this as a generational opportunity to destroy credit unions. Their goal is not just to tax credit unions. Their goal is to eliminate the competition, which they did to the [savings and loan] industry."
But Cheney said credit unions can win the battle if they stay in constant contact with leaders of Congress.
"We need people in the room when this grand bargain is struck to say, 'You're not going to tax my credit union.' Then we've won for a generation," Cheney said.
So far, credit unions have made more than a million contacts through the Don't Tax My Credit Union message, Cheney said. CUNA hopes credit unions can make at least two million contacts through the campaign.
"CUNA and the leagues have the led this fight, and I believe we're going to win it, but only if we continue to battle," he said.