Coalition Forms to Oppose Community Credit Union Charter Conversion; "Vote to Keep Our Credit Union" is Simple Message
DALLAS - A coalition of members from the $1.4 billion Community Credit Union has formed to oppose the financial institution's proposed conversion to a bank. The coalition was established by a group of Community Credit Union members to help other credit union members make an informed choice about whether or not to convert to bank. "Community Credit Union members are not being adequately informed about what the conversion truly means to them," said Mark Arnold, Coalition for Member Trust spokesperson. "Our goal is to provide a more complete picture for the members." Arnold is also SVP with Neighborhood FCU, and is the son of former Southwest Corporate CEO John Arnold. The coalition, which has established a new Web site at www.membertrust.org, is being spearheaded by credit union industry "insiders," individuals who are employed by credit unions or credit union-affiliated organizations, but they point out that they are participating in this endeavor independent of, but often with full support of, their employers. Other coalition members have no connection with credit unions outside their membership in Community Credit Union. Points the coalition is making to CCU members include: loss of ownership and control, higher rates and fees for members, executives stand to profit, using members' money to become a bank, and loss of equity for members. "Why should members give up their credit union benefits," notes Elaine Laroa, coalition member. "The conversion does not help the members at all-it just makes a few select people richer." Coalition plans include an advertising campaign, a media relations blitz and a member grassroots campaign. "The members have a right to vote to convert to a bank," Arnold notes. "But they also have a right to have all the facts. CCU has provided a completely slanted campaign to its members. What they have done is wrong and someone needs to inform the members the other side of the conversion story. Our coalition plans to do just that." The coalition is fighting an uphill battle and asks others to help with its efforts. "Obviously, it will take a great deal of resources to counter CCU's slick materials," Arnold says. "We are asking credit unions across the country to contribute to the fight." Funds can be sent to The Coalition for Member Trust, P.O. Box 600613, Dallas, TX 75360-0613. All funds sent will be used solely for legal costs and advertising expenses. Arnold notes that CCU is spending $1.2 million for its conversion process. "Let's be clear: if the members know all the facts and how the conversion impacts them, they would vote a resounding `no,'" Arnold says. "We have enough banks. Vote to keep our credit union."