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BATON ROUGE, La. – The Louisiana Credit Union League has placed six employees on “layoff status,” a move it says will help protect the financial viability of the League as it moves forward following Hurricane Katrina. A Sept. 18 memo from LCUL President/CEO Anne Cochran to League board members stated that in anticipation of a loss of dues and fee income from credit unions impacted by the hurricane, the League’s business plan will have to undergo several modifications, including staff reductions. “The hurricane changed the way everyone operates. The League is not at full operating strength now. We’re functioning from a satellite office with critical support staff,” Cochran told Credit Union Times. “The six employees were told they could be reinstated. Our hopes are to return to the New Orleans office at full strength, but I don’t know when that will be.” The league has 25 employees. The laid-off employees are Carolyn Ricks, Director of Research & Information; Marlene Luke, Director of Educational Programs; Gail Boudreaux, Accountant; Liz Thiebaud, Educational Assistant; Kevin Bernard, Mail Room; and Pam Dychtwald, Training Consultant. Luke and Ricks reportedly were part-time employees. Employees were notified of the layoffs by a phone call from Cochran and a follow-up letter. They will receive accrued vacation pay, according to League spokesperson Alicia Blanda, but she was uncertain whether they would receive additional pay of any kind. Cochran indicated the layoffs were made for economic reasons and because there is less need for certain employee tasks during this interim rebuilding period. “The employees were told they could be reinstated. “They were not fired; they were not terminated,” Cochran said. Her board memo read, “. I have placed 6 employees (2 of which were part time) on layoff status. My hopes and intentions are to continue to keep the League in business so that it may return to Harahan at full operating strength in the not too distant future and we can continue to serve our membership at the level of service to which they have become so accustomed. These laid off employees have been asked to keep in touch with us so that we may keep them apprised of our progress in returning our League to pre-Hurricane Katrina force.” The memo also stated that the League is retaining a human resources legal firm to guide LCUL and protect its interests. In the early days following the hurricane, all League employees followed the organization’s disaster procedures, which specify that employees secure their families and homes first and then check in with their work supervisors, according to Blanda. Gail Boudreaux, the last LCUL employee to be heard from because she rode out the storm in the New Orleans area, is one of the employees that has been dismissed. A majority of LCUL’s “critical support” staff have established temporary work operations at Bayou FCU here, although one employee is working from Suncoast Schools FCU in Tampa, Fla. and another from Monroe Telco CU in Monroe, La. Blanda reiterated that all of the League’s critical functions are being covered – communications, government affairs, disaster recovery, member services – although several educational programs have been cancelled or postponed, because meeting facilities and hotel accommodations are unavailable as a result of the hurricane. League officials are hopeful they can return to their office in Harahan, just outside New Orleans, but say it could be several more weeks before that happens. Power has been restored in the Harahan area, but a structural assessment of the building must be completed before employees will be allowed to enter. -

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