As a subscriber to Credit Union Times I can recall only a few articles on the National Cooperative Business Association, but I never associated it with credit unions. Although a credit union volunteer for over 25 years, I only recently heard a few details about the organization at a Washington State Credit Union League meeting from one of the speakers, Bucky Sebastian, president/CEO of GTE Federal Credit Union. I approached Bucky after his presentation on how the credit union charter should be changed and asked why credit unions don’t belong to or start a cooperative association. As part of his presentation, he was advocating that we drop “credit union” from our name and change to “financial services cooperative.” That’s when he told me about NCBA. His take on the organization seemed to me to be that the association doesn’t promote the credit union model as much as some members of our industry would like. So, I looked at the NCBA Web site, and low and behold, who do you think is on the board? None other than Jim Blaine, president/CEO of North Carolina State Employees’ Credit Union. There is one other CU executive and two from CUNA. So credit unions are involved there but not nearly to the degree that other businesses are. Is our voice loud enough in this organization? As I stated, I had barely heard of it in my years as a director and a frequent conference attendee. If this organization can not attract credit union and other cooperative supporters, is it time for yet another association? One not limited to credit unions but open to all cooperatives. Imagine if the subject of taxation of cooperatives was being discussed by the bankers’ association when they hike the Hill, not just taxation of credit unions. Our voice in Congress would be magnified many times over as others came to our defense. Let me note that Sebastian advocates taxation of credit unions. He wants us to pay just like the big banks do-which is nothing! The banks have so many ways to reduce their taxable earnings that they hardly any pay taxes while yelling in Congress that we should be taxed. I liked his proposal. You should ask him for a copy if you don’t already have it. As cooperatives, credit unions may be missing the boat when they do not partner with so many other cooperative organizations: farmers, electricity providers, medical co-ops, travel co-ops and grocers, to name a few. As the editor of the industry’s foremost publication, perhaps the subject could stand a little of your scrutiny.

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Peter Westerman


Credit Union Times

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