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A few weeks ago, two NCUA representatives went on camera at NAFCU and said that the industry needed to come together to save the corporate system. They urged that industry cooperation was the only way to salvage the system. They indicated that every federally insured credit union, in the spirit of industry cooperation, would have to contribute even if that meant widespread negative earnings and potentially the sacrifice of hundreds of credit unions.Let us all be clear on the definition of cooperation. It means the process of working together for the same end. What we have so far is not even close to cooperation. The NCUA so far has not only failed to meet the specific definition of cooperation, they can’t even claim to be working within the spirit of the definition. Just last week they met in a closed-door session, presumably to discuss how to further compel the industry to “cooperate” with their directives.If cooperation is what they want, why the closed-door deliberations?If cooperation is what they want, why not release the PIMCO details?If cooperation is what they want, why not call together leaders of credit unions from around the country for town hall meetings?If cooperation is what they want, why hide behind audio-based Webcasts that spare them from seeing the emotion their actions have stirred up?I have talked to many credit unions, from New York to California, and the position each has taken is that the process that the NCUA has utilized in its corporate efforts is wrong.This isn’t cooperation. This is compulsion.It is time to put right the relationship between the NCUA and the credit union community. The NCUA exists because of credit unions. Credit unions do not exist because of the NCUA.I am certainly not arguing for the NCUA to go away. I am not arguing that the U.S. Central or WesCorp conservatorships should not have happened (after all, how would I know without any supporting data). I am not arguing that we should go back to the credit union community that existed in the 1960s. What I am saying, and what I firmly believe, is that we need to get back to a peaceful and intelligent, cooperative relationship with the agency. That means that the agency must be true to its desire for industry cooperation, actually seeking to cooperate rather than mandating poor policy.While I feel bad for the fine folks that work hard at WesCorp and U.S. Central, this may be the best thing to happen to the industry in some time. The NCUA, through its own efforts, finally forced into the sunshine the poor relationship that exists between itself the credit union community.For the sake of 89 million Americans, this must be corrected.

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Peter Westerman

Credit Union Times

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