Starting next week, credit unions ought to be ready for a new round of “bank transfer” deposits resulting from the activist movement hitting bank shareholder meetings, the head of a Chicago grassroots coalition said Friday.
“We’ve always pulled for a long time for credit unions to get a bigger market share and now I think you will see that happen with thousands expected to show up starting first at Wells Fargo and then at Bank of America in Charlotte,” said George Goehl, executive director of National People’s Action.
The leader of the decades-old Chicago neighborhood activist group was referring to protesters from National People’s Action and other Occupy-like organizations, convening first in San Francisco on Tuesday and then later in North Carolina to vent anger as part of a big bank boycott.
Goehl said National People’s Action shares some of the concerns espoused by a New York group, New Bottom Line, whose “Move Our Money” website has been promoting the annual meeting sit-ins as it pushes an anti-Wall Street theme ranging from payday lending and foreclosure issues to executive pay.
“I think you could say this is the next big ‘bank transfer’ event that’s coming the way of credit unions and small banks and we’ve already talked to some small banks in Chicago and they continue to get new accounts,” said Goehl, who said he expects to fly to San Francisco and Charlotte for the protests.
Goehl said also there seems “to be a story about how in conjunction with increased shareholder activism around big bank meetings. There are efforts to engage many more in moving their money and a very likely place for that money to be moved will be credit unions.”
Asked about the group’s ties with the Occupy movement, which over the last year has been vocal in supporting credit unions, Goehl said National People’s Action has no direct ties to Occupy. He characterized Occupy as remaining a loose-knit organization whose next project is a May 1 general strike with unions taking part in the event.
Ilana Berger, co-director of New Bottom Line in New York, said her group does actively advocate for government and large institutions to move funds to credit unions and community banks and out of the mega banks “that refuse to be held accountable for their roles in the financial crisis.”