I almost fell off my chair after reading the Editor’s Column, “Work Fundamentals until You Ache and Win” in the April 24 issue.
“Some credit union executives have told me they aren’t comfortable with lobbying because they don’t want to offend members,” writes Sarah Snell Cooke. Sounds like an issue of partisanship to me, and we all can see how partisanship is impacting the ability of our government to do its job.
I agree, no matter how you cut it, lobbying is necessary. It’s an effective tool for use in protecting the assets of one’s business. It’s part of the American way, so why on earth should anyone feel uncomfortable lobbying on behalf of the interests of your organization?
O.K., I can understand such hesitancy if the need is to lobby for something that is detrimental to the welfare of others But, credit unions only lobby for what is beneficial to their members, right? So what gives?
I have to say, as a member-owner with a vested interest in the good rates and yields I get from my credit unions (yes, I belong to more than one), I would expect that they do everything that’s possible to safeguard their ability to continue such exemplary service. One requirement is to engage all elected officials with a purpose of helping them understand how a piece of legislation might benefit or detract from a credit union’s ability to provide such quality financial services, and in particular, services benefitting that elected official’s constituents. God knows, if a credit union does not provide such counsel or advocacy, others will, and I’m willing to bet the outcome would not be very appealing to the credit union community at all.
However, advocacy can’t stop there. It must also include the members of every credit union, even though they consist of Republicans, Democrats, independents, and nonpartisans, alike. Should such a minefield of political views and philosophies be seen as a legitimate reason to excuse all credit union execs from their lobbying responsibility because they don’t want to offend anyone?
Engaging members and lobbying their support should not be viewed as playing politics but rather as an effort to educate by offering unbiased facts and information. After all, education is one of the cooperative principles defining the credit union business model. Right?
There’s no denying it. Lobbying must have its rightful place at every credit union. Above all, we must never allow the negative bickering and innuendos that seem to characterize the current state of America’s political process to permeate our own way of thinking and stymie our ability to communicate and represent what’s best for credit unions and their members. We should not be uncomfortable to lobby but uncomfortable because, just maybe, we all could be doing a better job at it.
The Laskos Group