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When Rivermark Members Speak, Lawmakers Listen
BEAVERTON, Ore. (5/2/13)--Grassroots advocacy must be Rivermark Community CU's middle name. The Beaverton, Ore.-based credit union succeeded in getting more than 7,000 consumers to sign an online petition to "Say No to Big Banks"--within three days.

When the $547.3 million asset credit union sent an e-mail on Wednesday, April 24, asking members to sign the Northwest Credit Union Association's petition on saynotobigbanks.com, more than 2,000 signed the petition by that evening. By Friday, more than 7,000 consumers had signed it, said NWCUA (The Anthem April 30).

That's in addition to the 4,000 signatures already on the site.

"This is such a great demonstration of how powerful grassroots advocacy can be," said Jennifer Wagner, NWCUA vice president of legislative advocacy, in the article. "This is Main Street talking, and legislators listen to that.

"When you see thousands of credit union members step up so quickly, it makes it very clear that they want to protect the not-for-profit, cooperative structure of their credit unions, so that they can continue to see the real, tangible benefits of their membership," Wagner said. "If every credit union is able to engage their members at some level, the value of the credit union model will become loud and clear."

The petition stemmed from a Leadership Symposium during which attendees were "fired up discussing the bank lobby's attack on credit unions," said NWCUA, which co-sponsored the event.  Although state legislation attempting to impose additional regulatory burden is already dead in the Oregon legislature, the banks' push to eliminate credit unions' tax exemption, is active in 20 states and on the federal level, said NWCUA.

"We believe this is only the beginning of a protracted attack by the banking lobby," wrote Scott Burgess, Rivermark president/CEO, in his e-mail to about 30,000 members. "Your continued support will undoubtedly be important, both to Rivermark and to credit unions across the state."

It isn't the first time that Rivermark's members, staff and directors heeded the call to advocacy this year. More than 1,400 members wrote and e-mailed their legislators earlier in the state legislative session.

Protecting and defining the credit union tax exempt status is the top legislative priority for the Credit Union National Association, which has called on credit unions to Unite for Good to support its strategic vision in which "Americans choose credit unions as their best financial institution."

By working to remove barriers like regulatory burden and attempts to whittle away at credit unions' not-for-profit structure and tax exemption, by raising awareness of the value of credit union membership, and by continuing to foster service excellence that engages members, credit unions can expect such responses from their members.

For more information on that effort, use the link.
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