<p>Mike Welch’s column “CUs attacked because of others’ hidden agendas” in the March 13 issue caught my interest. His comments regarding the membership of United Airlines Employees’ CU were correct. Our charter allows us to serve employees, retirees, family members, and domestic partners of United Airlines and its affiliates. Due to our limited field of membership that we are chartered to serve, we are unable to target the community at large. As Welch pointed out, we serve all of our sponsor’s employee groups including pilots, flight attendants, mechanics, customer service agents, ramp and cabin service employees, and management. Currently 75% of United’s employees are members of our credit union. The income levels of these employees encompass a wide range creating special needs and demands from our diverse employee groups. We responded with tailored products such as a special loan program for flight attendants in training. This is an unpaid period of time for these employees, and many in this group have marginal credit ratings and would not qualify for unsecured loans using our standard criteria. You can imagine the havoc wreaked by the tragic events of September 11th on our sponsor, United Airlines, which was already suffering financially. Approximately 20,000 airline employees were furloughed. Many of these impacted were credit union members. As we practice “once a member, always a member”, we now have several thousand members no longer working for our sponsor. Many of these members have become financially strapped as they search for new employment. The credit union responded to this member crisis with several special loan repayment and consolidation programs, professional financial counseling services free of charge, and also made a sizable donation to a relief fund designated for employees suffering hardship. Although we are legally restricted by whom we may serve, we make every effort to carry out the long time motto of “people helping people” whenever possible. I applaud Credit Union Times which routinely surfaces important issues facing the credit union industry. Keep up the good work. Robert Bream President/CEO United Airlines Employees’ Credit Union Chicago, Ill.</p>

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