WASHINGTON, DC – Every day, lawmakers are faced with making decisions that impact our families, our communities and our credit unions. When those decisions are being discussed, the doctors weigh in to speak up for our hospitals. Teachers speak up for our schools. Bankers speak up for their banks. But, who speaks up for our credit unions?
Last week, CUNA held an inaugural YP Advocacy Training in Washington, D.C. to help cultivate the next generation of credit union leaders and change makers. West Community was represented along with nearly 50 other young credit union professionals who got a wide-ranging education on every aspect of advocacy including face-to-face time with their legislators.
“It was an energizing experience to be surrounded by other passionate young professionals who care about this industry and consumer choice,” said Ashley Scroggins, Graphic Designer & New Media Specialist with West Community Credit Union. “We got the opportunity to learn how to build relationships with lawmakers and educate them on the values of the credit union and how we help our members.”
Understanding the Issues
Every year, new issues emerge that impact credit unions and their members. It’s important for members to be aware of the policies (or lack thereof) that affect their money and if possible, take action. These important issues include:
Not-for-Profit Tax Status
Credit unions are not-for-profit financial cooperatives. As such, the profits are returned to the members of the credit union and are not subject to federal income tax. Preserving the credit union tax status is key to making sure consumers have a not-for-profit option in the financial services market.
Common Sense Regulation
Washington’s one-size-fits-all regulation does not work for local institutions. Over-regulation at the federal level costs Missouri credit unions $78.5 million each year. As member-owned financial cooperatives, the costs ultimately impact the wallets of credit union members and their families. We need common sense regulations that allow local institutions like credit unions to make decisions that best suit their communities and the consumers they serve.
Nonexistent merchant data security standards make merchants vulnerable to cyber attacks which expose credit union members to significant monetary costs and reputational risk. Credit unions cover the costs of fraud, blocking transactions, reissuing cards, increasing staffing at call centers and monitoring consumer accounts, but no one compensates the consumers for harm from the information that is lost.
How You Can Stay Up on the Issues
Things can move quickly in the legislative world. Follow us on facebook or twitter to keep up-to-date on the latest news. We also have resources on our website with information about the issues that affect your money and how to contact your lawmakers. We appreciate any action you take on behalf of the membership.
“It was kind of intimidating at first, but we learned in our advocacy training that the representatives are just people, and they actually want to hear from us,” Ashley said. “When people like us — the people who live, work and vote in their districts and are affected by the policies—tell them how their lives are affected, they listen.”