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ALBANY, N.Y. – For most people, the end of December meant the joy of holidays and expectations for the new year. But 2,400 Verizon employees statewide, 100 of whom are local, faced the holidays unemployed after being laid off by the communications company in mid-December due to a slow economy and competition in the telecommunications industry. Capital Communications FCU reached out to those affected employees who are members of the CU and is offering them assistance to help them deal with the period of uncertainty until they find other employment. Verizon was the originating sponsor group of Capital Communications FCU. The $300-million credit union now counts among its 43,000 members the Verizon employees in 21 eastern counties of New York State, as well as employees and their families from 190 Capital Region companies such as MapInfo, Clough Harbour, and Matthew Bender. CCFCU President/CEO Dennis Halpin said the credit union was proud of having been rated the top credit union in the country for member service in a 2002 survey by the Raddon Financial Group, “It’s always been imperative to help our members out whenever we can. Even though these members lost their job with Verizon, they’ll eventually find a job elsewhere. If we’re there to help them out now, they’ll be there for us in the long run.” This actually isn’t the first time CCFCU has put its member emergency assistance policy in to action. The credit union first used its policy two years ago when another of its major select employee groups, Garden Way, shut down. The policy also enacted the policy when Verizon employees’ union went on strike. “At that time, the credit union formalized the policy and decided to offer it to any members of the credit unions whenever they’re involved in any labor issue.” When he learned about the planned layoffs, Halpin made sure he spoke with both local management and union representatives to be certain they were aware of the assistance the credit union was making available to its members affected by the layoffs. He also used the local media – the Times Union newspaper in Albany, the Daily Gazette in Schenectady, and WRGB-CBS affiliate in Schnectady – to get the word out that CCFCU was there to help any of its members who were laid off. Among the assistance the credit union is offering is a deferral of affected members’ loan payments for at least three months while they look for other employment. Budget counseling and pension distribution advice are also available from CCFCU. “These members are going from receiving a solid, steady paycheck, to being on unemployment. They need help with their cash flow,” said Halpin. He added that the credit union is amenable to extending members’ loan payment deferrals beyond three months, if it’s necessary. In addition, CCFCU is reassuring members that even though they became eligible to join the credit union when they became employed by Verizon and have since been laid off, they will remain CU members. To be eligible to use the assistance program benefits, laid off employees have to have been a member of Capital Communications FCU before they lost their job. Although the layoffs were based on seniority, all affected members are eligible for the same level of assistance from the credit union, regardless how long they were members. At press time, Capital Communications FCU had already received over 100 calls from these members, and 24 had signed waivers on the CU’s Web site verifying they understood the terms of the assistance policy. “The key is we need to get the word out to our membership that we are here to help them now and even afterwards when they find employment,” said Halpin. -

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