KENNEWICK, Wash. (3/4/09)--A Spokane, Wash.-based credit union serving union employees, their families and businesses that hire union workers has opened a branch Monday in Kennewick, Wash. The Union CU, with $12.8 million in assets, decided to open the branch to better serve members in the Tri-Cities. Many already use the credit union's online banking facilities, CEO Demaris Krummel told the Tri-City Herald (March 3). In a financial environment of tightening credit, the credit union has become more important to members. The bulk of its growth occurred last year, Krummel said. Established in 1968 by members of the Bricklayers Local 3 in Spokane, the credit union has about 4,500 members. The new branch employs three employees, including manager Jeff Burckhard. All employees--including the CEO and board members--are union members. Krummel told the paper that members earn 3% interest on their checking accounts, and it is helping its members through tough times. Out-of-work members are allowed to skip loan payments. The credit union is also planning a branch in Seattle next year.