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BEAVERTON, Ore. – Up until it was time for a joint Washington and Oregon credit union task force to recommend to their respective boards for consolidation of the Credit Union Association of Oregon and the Washington Credit Union League, everything seemed a go. But things took a 180-degree turn when the CUAO board decided to maintain their independence. By year’s end, the CUAO board’s decision that halted the consolidation talks would be one of several such decisions between other credit union leagues and credit unions. Just days before the CUAO board announced its decision, Chairman Paul Williams, a member of the 10-member task force said CUAO was aware of some of the downsides that would result from a consolidation with the Washington League such as some loss of local control. Still, the task force stressed the downsides were few and focused more on what stood to be gained from a consolidation. Williams noted, for example, that with the number of CUs diminishing in the state, a consolidation would allow CUs to receive expanded products and services without paying increased dues. Had the consolidation gone through, CUAO and the Washington League would have retained a permanent presence in their state capitals through the establishment of two Credit Union Houses, one each in Olympia, Wash. and Salem, Ore. When it came time for the respective boards to vote on the task force’s recommendations, the Washington Credit Union League Board unanimously accepted it and voted to present its membership with a `strong do pass’ recommendation. But the CUAO board gave its thumbs down, asserting said Williams, “the timing is just not right at this point to pursue a consolidation at this time.” Elaborating on the board’s position, Williams said the board was concerned CUAO would lose its identity in Oregon and that would weaken its legislative effectiveness if it consolidated with the Washington League. The Washington League was surprised and disappointed with the CUAO’s decision, but considering the two groups had been talking a possible consolidation for more than 20 years, WCUL said it wasn’t going to close the door entirely on further discussions. At press time however, no further talks have been held. Nor has the Washington League or CUAO expressed any interest in pursuing consolidation talks further. -

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