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Bank Transfer Day at one year Love affair continues

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WASHINGTON (11/5/12)--The Credit Union National Association  has distributed a radio news release to stations around the U.S. in anticipation of today's one-year anniversary of Bank Transfer Day, which marked a lovefest for credit unions as consumers fled high-fee banks for sensible financial services.

In the radio segment, CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney, as he did last week in a Huffington Post column, takes note of the strong growth credit unions have seen in new members and new checking accounts over the past year.

"More than 2.2 million Americans became members of credit unions during the 12 months ending in June of this year," Cheney said. "Not only is that the fastest increase in new membership that we've seen in over a decade, it's also four times greater than the 550,000 who joined during the year ending in June of 2011.

"Why are people switching to credit unions? For starters, about 80% of credit unions today still offer free checking accounts. And, fees in general tend to be lower at not-for-profit credit unions than at banks," he said. To hear the audio clip, click on the clip at the end of the story.

Cheney also is scheduled to be a guest this evening on the Fox Business Network's Willis Report discussing what credit unions have seen in the year since Bank Transfer Day.  The Willis Report airs at 6 p.m. ET.

During the 12 months between June 2011 and June 2012, share draft/checking accounts at credit unions rose 2.87 million, to 47.6 million accounts, a 6.4% increase, according to CUNA's economics and statistics department. That compares with a 2.9% increase in the previous year. The number of accounts is a record back to since CUNA began counting checking accounts in 1989.

The increased consumer awareness about credit unions leading up to Bank Transfer Day also resulted in more consumers finding credit unions--via, which launched in March 2011. For much of 2011, the site had averaged 2,000 visits a week from people seeking to find a credit union. On the Friday before Bank Transfer Day, it recorded 40,000 visits. On Bank Transfer Day itself, which was a Saturday, the site registered 40,000 visits. Since then, the site has averaged 5,000 to 7,000 visits a week through 2012.  In the first nine months of 2012, more than 300,000 successful credit union searches were conducted by consumers.

The beauty of the growth that stems from Bank Transfer Day is that it was a consumer-inspired social media drive that urged people to move their money from big banks to credit unions because bank customers were fed up with increasing fees. The word spread with thousands of mouse clicks in social media movement, with current members telling others how great their credit unions were and giving testimony to the philosophy of credit unions and their low fees or no fees and better rates.

Throughout the year, national media have focused on the rapid growth of credit union membership. One of the latest reports, in Crain's Cleveland Business (Oct. 29) discusses the growth of Ohio's credit unions' membership. Mike Schenk, vice president of economics and statistics at CUNA, told the publication about the growth: "We think a lot of it has to do with Bank Transfer Day and follow-on activities. That single event really has snowballed. It's created a tremendous amount of interest in and awareness of credit unions."

The Wisconsin Credit Union League noted that in the 12 months ended June 30, checking account growth was 6.6%, the largest in over a decade. "Consumers are acting as if every day is Bank Transfer Day," said league President Brett Thompson. "While the strength and safety of credit unions attracted many consumers during the economic downturn, consumers have grown more loyal and are spreading the news because of the savings they're seeing." Consumers in the state saved $201 million in 2011, just be being members of credit unions rather than using banks--$76 per member or $144 per family.

Three more CUNA Board nominations arrive

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MADISON, Wis. (11/5/12)--Three more nominations have been submitted for Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Board positions.

They are:

  • District 4, Class C: Dennis Pierce, CEO, CommunityAmerica CU, Lenexa, Kan.;
  • District 6, Class A: Susan Streifel, president/CEO, Woodstone CU, Federal Way, Wash.; and
  • District 5, Class D: J. Scott Sullivan, president/CEO,  Nebraska Credit Union League, Omaha, Neb.
These are in addition to nominations received earlier. Incumbent Roger Heacock was nominated for the District 5, Class B board position. He is president/CEO of Black Hills FCU in Rapid City, S.D. Also, incumbent John Graham,  president/CEO of Kentucky Employees CU in Frankfort, Ky., was nominated for the District 2, Class A position.

Positions up for election are:

  • District 1, Class C;
  • District 2, Class A;
  • District 3, Class B;
  • District 4, Class C;
  • District 5, Class B;
  • District 5, Class D;
  • District 6, Class A; and
  • District 6, Class D.
A nominee must be an employee or voting board member of the nominating credit union to be an eligible candidate elected by credit unions. The nomination must be seconded in writing by at least two other credit unions from the same district and class.

League candidates must be a league president and nominated in writing by their league, and seconded in writing by at least one other league from the district.

Nominations are due through Nov. 16. For contested elections, ballots will be sent Nov. 21, with voting continuing through Jan. 4. Results of contested elections will be announced Jan. 8.

Directors will take office upon the adjournment of CUNA,s Annual General Meeting on Feb. 25 in Washington, D.C.

Nomination packets are available by calling 800-356-9655, ext. 4013; using the resource link; or e-mailing

CUs ramp up for tomorrows elections

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The Illinois Credit Union League (ICUL) met with U.S. congressional candidate Cheri Bustos.  Those attending  include (from left to right): Donald Edwards, ICUL senior vice president, federal governmental affairs; Joe Green, board vice chair, Cornerstone CU; Bustos; Wayne Radzi, board chair, Cornerstone CU; Gail Clore, CEO, Cornerstone CU; and Barrie Hendricksen, Northwest Illinois Chapter Legislative forum representative and chief financial officer, Cornerstone CU. (Photo provided by the Illinois Credit Union League)
MADISON, Wis. (11/5/12)--Credit unions nationwide have prepared for tomorrow's general election by educating candidates about credit unions and their issues and by backing candidates who are credit union supporters.

At the state level, all 186 legislative seats will be decided, and the league has endorsed 101 House and Senate candidates running for the Maine Legislature. Meanwhile, the race to determine who will replace retiring U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) will be decided. Last spring, the league was one of the first organi­zations to announce its support for former Maine Governor Angus King, Jr.'s candidacy in the U.S. Senate race.

In Maine's Second Congressional District, U.S.  Rep. Mike Michaud (D-2), a former credit union board member who is now an hon­orary credit union board member, again has the strong support of the league as he seeks a sixth term in the House of Representatives. In the First Congressio­nal District, two-term U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-1) has the support of the league as she runs for a third term.

Citadel FCU in Exton, Pa., hosted a breakfast fundraiser for U.S Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-6) on Oct. 23. In addition to Citadel CEO/President Jeff March and Citadel's management team, the breakfast was attended by several credit union leaders. Jim McCormack of Pennsylvania Credit Union Association and Rick Stipa of TruMark Financial were among the attendees. Gerlach is a member of the House Ways and Means Committee and supports the work of credit unions. Pictured is the Host Committee, from left: Jim McCormack, PCUA; Jim McCrudden, Citadel; Rosemary Helm, Citadel; John Rothwell, Rothwell Business Solutions; Jeff March, Citadel; Rick Stipa, TruMark Financial; Gerlach; Ed Maier, Citadel; Brian Berry, Citadel; Curtis Baker, Citadel; Chris Pippett, Fox Rothschild; and Mike Schnably, Citadel. (Photo provided by Citadel FCU)
In New York, The Credit Union Association of New York's (CUANY) board of directors recently voted to endorse first-term U.S. Rep. Richard Hanna (R-Utica-Rome) in New York's 24th Congressional District. Hanna has developed strong relationships with the association and numerous credit unions.

"I look forward to continuing to support policies in Congress that allow upstate credit unions to assist our neighbors everyday with their financial needs," Hanna said. During his first term, Hanna co-sponsored priority legislation for credit union member business lending, supplemental capital, financial institution examination fairness and ATM fee disclosure reform.

"The association is as committed as ever to endorsing and electing pro-credit union candidates and Rep. Hanna is one such candidate," said William J. Mellin, CUANY president/CEO.

In Illinois, Cheri Bustos, Democratic candidate for the U.S. 17th Congressional District, was provided a forum by credit unions in northwestern Illinois in late October to discuss issues critical to credit unions in that area of the state, as well as other local matters, said the Illinois Credit Union League (ICUL).

The meet-and-greet event was held at Cornerstone CU's branch location in Sterling, Ill. The Northwestern Illinois Chapter of Credit Unions, which hosted the event, is home to more than 225,000 members.

Bustos is a former alderman for the city of East Moline, Ill. Her career also includes serving as a journalist as well as in public relations and communications for the not-for-profit healthcare industry for more than 20 years.

Through her work experience and as a member of a local credit union, she has gained a considerable appreciation for the not-for-profit industry, including credit unions, said the league. Bustos believes in the movement's "people helping people" philosophy and strongly supports maintaining the credit union member-owned, not-for-profit, cooperative structure, the league added.

Bustos also is endorsed by the CUNA's CULAC. Credit unions from the Northwest Illinois chapter are distributing a statement of support to their members prior to tomorrow's election.

In Virginia, on Wednesday, U.S Rep. Gerald "Gerry" Connolly (D-Va.) visited the Belvoir FCU branch in Woodbridge, Va. Being an advocate of credit unions and the credit union movement, Connolly wanted to gain a better understanding of what one credit union was doing to make a difference within the financial industry.

On Wednesday, U.S Rep. Gerald "Gerry" Connolly (D-Va.) visited the Belvoir FCU branch in Woodbridge, Va. From left,  (first row): Tisha Wallace, chief operating officer; Amy McConnell, eMarketing and Public Relations Specialist; Connolly; Dottye Bunch, facilities/project manager; From left, second row: Ken Worthey, marketing and communications specialist; Jason Lindstrom, chief marketing officer; Gaye DeCesare, COA; Jennifer Dorcsis, executive assistant; Mike Ligon, chief financial officer (Photo provided by Belvoir CU)
During Connolly's visit, Belvoir's executive and marketing teams discussed with him the credit union's active role within the credit union movement and the Fort Belvoir community, and the advantage credit unions provide their members, especially to those in the military.

Belvoir Federal's Chief Marketing Officer Jason Lindstrom and Chief Operating Officer Tisha Wallace discussed the impact the credit union makes with its members through specific loan products, such as the ARK Loan and the Credit Builder Loan, which were designed to help individuals in desperate need of financial assistance.

The executive team described how Belvoir has assisted members when they could not find funding elsewhere and educated members so they could eventually receive a mortgage or auto loan.

Connolly ended his visit to Belvoir FCU on a positive note by saying: "I have been a member of a credit union for over 34 years, so I know how they work. Now that I am in Congress, I support many credit unions … Your mission (at the credit union) is critical, and I think there are ways to educate those in Congress to show your position."

All of the candidates mentioned for national office--Hanna, King, Michaud, Bustos and Connolly--received maximun financial support from CULAC, Hawkins told News Now.

International co-ops address future at Manchester summit

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MANCHESTER, England (11/5/12)--Cooperatives United: A World Festival and Expo, a global festival of events and exhibitions, was held last week in Manchester, England, to mark the close of the International Year of the Cooperative (IYC).

2012 was designated by the United Nations (UN) as IYC, with the theme "Cooperatives build a better world."

The conference's closing ceremony featured a panel discussion that included IYC U.S. Steering Committee member Paul Hazen, along with Dame Pauline Green, Bank Transfer Day founder Kristen Christian and several other international leaders.

Bill Cheney, president/CEO of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), attended the International Co-operative Alliance board meeting during Cooperative United. CUNA has been a participant on National Cooperative Business Association's International Year of Cooperatives Steering Committee. CUNA and U.S. credit unions and leagues were active in a number of IYC events in the U.S., including the cross-country Co-Cycle tour and Cabot Creamery Cooperative's Community bike/walking along the East Coast.

A new video Celebrating 2012 IYC was released in conjunction with Cooperatives United. It runs three minutes, 20 seconds and includes content from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, National Cooperative Grocers Association, Co-Cycle, and the Cooperative Teach-in team as well as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, ICA President Dame Pauline Green, and cooperative leaders and projects from around the world. To view the video use the link.

N.J. CU steps up with child care office space

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CLARK, N.J. (11/5/12)--When employees of Aspire FCU, Clark, N.J., returned to work following Hurricane Sandy, they faced challenges in their personal lives.

Because local New Jersey schools were closed after Hurricane Sandy last week, Aspire FCU President/CEO Tom O'Shea invited staff to bring their kids to work.
Recognizing that Hurricane Sandy had created child-care issues for many staffers since area child care facilities were closed for the week, President/CEO Tom O'Shea invited staff to bring their kids to work.

About a dozen kids, ranging in age from 15 months to 15 years, gathered in the credit unions learning center to watch movies and color, among other activities, O'Shea told the New Jersey Credit Union League (The Daily Exchange Nov. 2). O'Shea's daughter provided assistance caring for the children.

Because of limited gasoline availability in the area, Aspire CU also offered staff the opportunity to work from home when possible. Because few traffic signals in the area were working, so the $186.5 million asset credit union dismissed staffers before sunset.

Aspire also offered other credit unions, business partners and vendors offering emergency office space and internet access.

Aspire FCU in Clark, N.J. offered other credit unions, business partners and vendors emergency office space and Internet access in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. (Photos provided by New Jersey Credit Union League)

The credit union is monitoring U.S. Postal Service deliveries and is waiving members' late and overdraft fees, if appropriate. Members who are out of work as a result of Hurricane Sandy will be offered an opportunity skip-a-pay on their loans for free.

"It's times like these, when our members and employees are most in need that we're reminded of the reason credit unions exist--to help people," O'Shea told the New Jersey league. "In the cooperative spirit of credit unions, it's our duty to assist others where we can.

"We're fortunate enough to have all the amenities needed to operate as a fully-functioning credit union, and it would be unwise and selfish to only think about ourselves in a time like this when our employees' families and other partners in the industry have a need that we can help fill," O'Shea said.

Retail heavyweights file opposition to interchange settlement

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NEW YORK (11/5/12)--A group of large retailers Friday requested a Federal judge to reject a proposed settlement in the retailers' class action antitrust lawsuit against Visa and MasterCard over credit card interchange fees.

The retailers said the settlement would not bring credit card swipe fees charged by Visa and MasterCard under control and does not give merchants who oppose it an adequate mechanism to opt out.

Among the retailers joining the court filing were Target, Macy's J.C. Penney, The Gap, Neiman Marcus, Abercromie & Fitch, Papa John's and the National Retail Federation. The 19 companies represent more than 17,000 separate retail outlets and more than $150 billion in annual sales, said court documents.

In a brief filed Friday in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York, Brooklyn, the retailers argue the settlement cannot legally be certified as a class action because it attempts to force a one-size-fits-all solution onto a diverse group of merchants. Retailers also argued that a provision barring all retailers--including those who opt out of the settlement--from filing future lawsuits over swipe fees is impermissibly broad under federal law.

Credit unions are not involved in the lawsuit, but they and other financial institutions would be affected by the settlement's terms. The $7.5 billion settlement would require a reduced interchange rate fee (IRF) of 10 basis points for an eight month period, likely beginning in mid-2013, and would apply to all card issuers, including credit unions (News Now Nov. 1).

If the total credit IRF reduction is $1.2 billion, credit unions with credit card programs would lose about $50 million in total revenues, or about 0.5 basis points on their total assets, Credit Union National Association said. The loss would be concentrated among a relatively small number of credit unions with very active credit card programs.

The proposed settlement also calls for Visa, MasterCard and the banks to create a $6.05 billion fund to repay retailers for past fees charged and says retailers would be permitted to assess "check out" fees or surcharges on credit card purchases, which has previously been prohibited by Visa and Mastercard rules.

The surcharging aspect of the settlement--as well as the provision that consumer-owned credit unions would see a reduction in interchange revenue--are signs that the settlement does nothing for consumers, CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney has said. Interchange revenue enables credit unions to provide "essential and cost-effective credit card services" to members. "We also know that the temporary reduction in interchange revenue that credit unions will experience will not likely find its way into the pockets of consumers, but will more likely into those of merchants," Cheney said.

NEW N.Y. N.J. leagues update CUs status report significant losses

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ALBANY, N.Y., and HIGHTSTOWN, N.J. (FILED 3:12 p.m. ET 11/2/12)--The leagues in New York and New Jersey sent out updates this afternoon on the latest assessments of credit unions in their states impacted by Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy Monday and Tuesday.

"As you all know, the damage from Hurricane Sandy continues to impact many of our New York credit unions," said a message to member credit unions from Credit Union Association of New York President/CEO William J. Mellin.

"I have spoken personally with several credit unions in the affected areas, and our member relations team is also working diligently to get in touch with more than  150 potentially impacted credit unions. As we reach them, we're collecting information about their operational status and needs. We have already coordinated resources like generators and laptops and will continue to do as much as possible," Mellin said.

Until power is restored in critical areas, it is difficult to fully assess the situation, he said, but added that so far, "the losses are significant. We have faced other disasters, but what sets this apart is the vast number of credit union employees and members who have been impacted. In the most affected areas, there are more than two million credit union members. Countless are still without power and access to gas, heat and other basic necessities. Some have completely lost their homes. And they're all going to be looking to their credit unions for help as they begin to recover."

CUANY has reactivated the statewide Disaster Relief Fund through the New York Credit Union Foundation (NYCUF).  Use the New York foundation link for more information. Mellin also said credit unions will get a toolkit to help them with the relief effort.

Meanwhile, the Disaster Relief Fund activated for credit union people in all the affected states by the National Credit Union Foundation had passed the $65,000 funds raised as of this morning. Use the link for more information.

The National Credit Union Administration has been monitoring the status for more than 2,000 credit unions in the storm's path. "The vast majority of federally insured credit unions are fully operational; however, some are closed, and others are operating partially with branch closures, in temporary facilities, or with only ATM services. Affected credit unions are working to quickly restore normal operations," NCUA said.

Its examiners along the East Coast are checking with their credit unions to provide support and assistance, answering members' questions, and NCUA is expediting consideration of credit union emergency grant applications.

NCUA is experiencing a higher-than-usual call volume at its consumer assistance hotline (800-755-1030, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday).

New York University FCU was the first credit union to apply to NCUA for its emergency grants to restore service. It applied on Wednesday and approval was made Thursday, said NCUA.

The New Jersey Credit Union League's twice daily status report showed the status of several credit unions reporting their status for the first time as well as some whose status changed. For the status of credit unions not on this list, use the link to the related News Now story, "New reports on status of CUs in hurricane aftermath." New status reports include:

  • Affinity FCU-- Most branches will be open during normal business hours, with the exception of these branches that are still without power: Bedminster (both the AT&T and Lamington Road locations), Morristown (Country Mile Village), New Providence, and Middletown. Online Banking, Mobile Banking and AUDREY (automated phone banking service) are fully operational. Standard 800 number is fully operational: 800-325-0808. Some Affinity ATMs are operational, specifically those in branches in Basking Ridge, Flemington and Paramus.
  • Deepwater FCU--Opened on Wednesday, was not damaged in any way, and running at full service.
  • Elizabeth NJ Fireman's FCU-- Has power but no connectivity. Optimum has crews in the area but no estimated time of repair. ACH, drafts, debit card, payroll deductions have been processed online. May get cash if not connected by today. Members have made withdrawals by debit card.
  • Financial Resources FCU--These New Jersey branches and the Member Service Center (Call Center) are open until 4 p.m.: Bridgewater, Somerset and Flemington. The Green Brook and Hillsborough branch remain closed due to power and telecommunications issues. All branches outside of New Jersey are open for normal business hours. ATMs are operational at these public locations: 1 New Amwell Road, Hillsborough, N.J.; 780 Easton Ave., Somerset, N.J.; 110 Rehill Ave., Somerville, N.J.; State Theatre of NJ, 11 Livingston Ave., New Brunswick, N.J.; Residence Inn, 4225 US Highway 1, Monmouth Junction, N.J.; Jewish Renaissance Center, 275 Hobart St.; and Perth Amboy, N.J.  The 800 number is now operational at 800-933-3280 or via e-mail using the "Contact Us" link on home page. Online Banking, mobile, mobile apps and text message banking continue to be available.
  • First Financial FCU-- Neptune and Toms River Branches opened today at 9 a.m. with limited service. The credit union has declared an emergency situation, and will move its processing out of state. It expects to be fully operational in the next 48 to 72 hours. The Wall Township Reality Fair sponsored by First Financial FCU originally scheduled for Monday, Nov. 5th, has been postponed.
  • Frankling St. John's CU--Its office is closed due to power outage; however, transactions are being processed remotely.  Members can contact Diane Murray at
  • Lakewood Community FCU--Closed due to power outage.
  • Liberty Savings FCU--Union City branch will open for business at 2 p.m. and will remain open until 7 p.m. tonight.
  • Local 32 Asbestos Workers FCU--Open and fully operational.
  • Messiah Baptist Church FCU--Open and fully operational.
  • MidState FCU--Open as of today from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., but without power. Members can cash pay checks, make withdrawals, make payments, etc. Power estimated to come back up in two weeks.
  • Morristown FCU--Has been open at both branches since Tuesday working regular scheduled hours.
  • Princeton FCU-- Fully up and running as of Wednesday.
  • Public Service FCU--Still without power and Internet; operating from a remote location for back office processing. Staff is at the office to answer phone calls during the day. Debit, ACH, and share drafts are  OK, does not have VRU and Home Banking at the present time.
  • Unity FCU-- Open and fully operational.
The NCUA is also launching a clothing drive for credit union members and employees affected by the hurricane, which will be delivered to the New Jersey league office in Hightstown next week, said the league.