The Virginia Credit Union League was galvanizing its membership Friday for what it called a full court press to oppose state legislation permitting banks to merge with credit unions and vice versa.
In a series of alerts and meetings including those with staffers from the Virginia Bankers Association, principal sponsor of the bills, league officials voiced new objections to the "complex and faulty" language in the bill which, if enacted, would ease the way for banks to acquire CU capital, members and assets.
"It's bad enough that this legislation would let banks buy credit unions, but on top of that there are no protections for members' rights," said Karin Sherbin, director of government affairs for the league.
She stressed that the job now for Virginia CUs is to "educate lawmakers on the difference between for-profit stock and nonprofit, member owned financial institutions." Lawmakers often say they understand the differences but in many cases they do not, according to Sherbin. She is helping organize a turnout of CEOs to buttonhole legislators on the bill next Thursday, which is Credit Union Day in Richmond.
Credit Union Day has been a regular event but this year takes on greater significance in light of the bank bills, which have the backing of Senate Majority Leader Richard Saslaw who also is chairman of the Commerce and Labor Committee.
Companion bills have also been introduced on the House side. Hearings have not been scheduled. Calling the banker moves "unprecedented," the league board said it has "voted to oppose the legislation as the next step in bankers' contain-and-convert strategy to drive credit unions from the marketplace, and perhaps get their hands on credit unions capital."