Concerned with a dramatic drop in employment in the airtransportation industry, Wings Financial Federal Credit Union hasasked its members to vote on converting to a state-chartered creditunion in an effort to expand its footprint.

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In an online letter (www.wingsfinancial.com) the $2.1 billionApple Valley, Minn.-based credit union said employment in the airtransportation industry is down 24% since 2001. Wings Financialsaid by converting to a state charter, it would open membership upto the 13 county Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota area. Nearly 50%of its 125,000 members live or work in the two metropolitanregions. Wings Financial was chartered in 1938 to serve NorthwestAirlines.

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Wings Financial mailed out ballots to members, which were dueback by Aug. 27. The state charter application has been approved byboth the state of Minnesota and the NCUA, Wings Financial said. Thevote to convert requires a count of all mail and in-person ballotscast.

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“If members voted against the conversion by ballot, the statevote would become irrelevant. If the ballot vote passes, then wewould conduct a vote of the members present at the special meetingto determine whether or not we would adopt the Minnesota statecharter,” Wings Financial wrote.

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The Minnesota state statute, which requires two-thirds ofmembers present at the meeting to vote in favor of a proposal, willnot become Wings Financial's new method of deciding initiativesthat require a member vote. The statute's voting requirementapplies only to the charter conversion. Future questions requiringa member vote whether in person or by mail ballot would beconducted in accordance with credit union bylaws, which call forthe use of Roberts Rules of Order. Most member votes would requirea majority vote of all members voting.

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Meanwhile, employment reduction in the air transportationindustry “could present challenges for Wings in the long-term,” thecredit union said.

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Wings Financial said its board of directors looked at severaloptions for long-term growth before deciding on maintaining bothits service to the air transportation industry and potentiallyexpanding beyond that field. In 2004, the credit union was approvedfor a trade, industry and profession charter. Wagner said 40,000members have joined since the TIP charter.

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According to June 30 NCUA financial performance data, the creditunion's membership growth rate was 4.08% as of June 2008, went upto 4.22% in September 2008 but then dropped to 3.88% in December ofthat year. This year, Wings Financial's membership growth ratecontinued to decrease at 1.06% in March 2009, which was behind itspeer average of 3.90%. In June, the credit union's slide continuedon at 0.72% compared to its peer average of 4.66%.

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