In an online letter (www.wingsfinancial.com) the $2.1 billion Apple Valley, Minn.-based credit union said employment in the air transportation industry is down 24% since 2001. Wings Financial said by converting to a state charter, it would open membership up to the 13 county Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota area. Nearly 50% of its 125,000 members live or work in the two metropolitan regions. Wings Financial was chartered in 1938 to serve Northwest Airlines.
Wings Financial mailed out ballots to members, which were due back by Aug. 27. The state charter application has been approved by both the state of Minnesota and the NCUA, Wings Financial said. The vote to convert requires a count of all mail and in-person ballots cast.
"If members voted against the conversion by ballot, the state vote would become irrelevant. If the ballot vote passes, then we would conduct a vote of the members present at the special meeting to determine whether or not we would adopt the Minnesota state charter," Wings Financial wrote.
The Minnesota state statute, which requires two-thirds of members present at the meeting to vote in favor of a proposal, will not become Wings Financial's new method of deciding initiatives that require a member vote. The statute's voting requirement applies only to the charter conversion. Future questions requiring a member vote whether in person or by mail ballot would be conducted in accordance with credit union bylaws, which call for the use of Roberts Rules of Order. Most member votes would require a majority vote of all members voting.
Meanwhile, employment reduction in the air transportation industry "could present challenges for Wings in the long-term," the credit union said.
Wings Financial said its board of directors looked at several options for long-term growth before deciding on maintaining both its service to the air transportation industry and potentially expanding beyond that field. In 2004, the credit union was approved for a trade, industry and profession charter. Wagner said 40,000 members have joined since the TIP charter.
According to June 30 NCUA financial performance data, the credit union's membership growth rate was 4.08% as of June 2008, went up to 4.22% in September 2008 but then dropped to 3.88% in December of that year. This year, Wings Financial's membership growth rate continued to decrease at 1.06% in March 2009, which was behind its peer average of 3.90%. In June, the credit union's slide continued on at 0.72% compared to its peer average of 4.66%.