WASHINGTON — Bowing to the pressures that come with a recession, CUNA has laid off eight employees and eliminated merit increases for senior staff members.CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica said these changes will result in “significant savings” to the trade association, which has a $56 million annual budget and 270 full-time equivalent employees.“Our combined actions so far have enabled CUNA to bring our year-end 2008 budget into balance and be better prepared for any higher-than-anticipated revenue shortfall,” he added.Six of the employees are in the association’s Madison, Wis., offices, while two are in its Washington, D.C., headquarters. The cuts are in human resources, information technology, sales/marketing and the library staffs.The association is continuing a selective hiring freeze that began last year and has eliminated merit increases for senior staff members. They have also reduced staff travel and more closely monitored outside contracts.CUNA said it is not planning to eliminate any of its conferences, though plans to use Webinars and conference calls more often.Neither NAFCU or NASCUS are planning staff or salary freezes, but both said they would be cutting expenses.NAFCU President/CEO Fred Becker said the group has been planning conservatively, knowing that revenues could be off “because 2009 will be difficult for our members.”He said in light of those conditions, it has frozen conference fees at 2008 levels. Also, the association has built up a cash reserve and owns its headquarters’ building in Arlington, Va., free and clearNAFCU has 67 full-time equivalent employees and an annual budget of $11.5 million. The grouphad 813 members at the end of 2008, compared with 809 at the end of 2007.Becker said he encouraged staff to watch expenses and review everything they are doing with a “do I need to do that?”He said the association has made contingency plans if the economy gets even worse but said those don’t include layoffs or a hiring or salary freeze.NASCUS President/CEO Mary Martha Fortney said while her association, which has 10 full-time equivalent employees and a $2 million budget, is in “sound financial shape,” it is changing parts of its operations to reflect reductions in state spending.While attendance at training sessions has remained steady, the group is doing more Webinars and holding training sessions on site.Next month, approximately 40 credit union executives and regulators are scheduled to attend a compliance school in California, which will save attendees from surrounding states the costs of a round-trip, cross-country plane ticket.“Because we are small, we can be more nimble,” she said.During the group’s next quarterly meeting with state regulators, it plans to discuss whether there should be additional training sessions outside the Washington area.Trade associations have been tightening their belts throughout Washington, and those that have reduced payroll have made cuts of 10% or less, mostly through attrition, said John H. Graham IV, president/CEO of the American Society of Association Executives.He also said most associations are being certain not to curb-and many are even increasing-their advocacy efforts.“Given the new administration and new Congress, everyone wants to do things that provide unique benefits to their members and that includes lobbying,” he said. “There’s going to be a lot going on here, and everyone wants to be well represented, even if they do that at the expense of other areas.”Many of the trade associations that have been hurt have been those affected by the collapse of the housing industry.The Mortgage Bankers Association lost 17% of its members last year and cut 20% of its staff. The National Association of Mortgage Brokers lost 20% of its members last year and reduced its staff by 16%.But John Hall of the American BankersAssociation said his organization has no plans to lay off anyone, reduce staff by attrition or freeze salaries.He said there was some attrition when his group merged with America’s Community Bankers in 2007, but since then staff levels have remained steady.–[email protected]

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