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Push made to reinstate Canadian CU workers fired in strike

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HAMILTON, Ontario (12/5/07)--Union members of First Ontario CU say they will push to reinstate employees fired during a lengthy strike at the credit unions annual meeting to be held tonight. Seven employees were fired during the strike. Striking workers padlocked the doors when they occupied the Queensdale and Upper Sherman branch on April 18, in an attempt to get the credit union to return to the bargaining table in the midst of a stalemate in a labor negotiation process (News Now May 24). The protest ended an hour after it began, when Hamilton police smashed a glass door to gain entry to the credit union. First Ontario’s new CEO Kelly McGiffen was contacted and asked to hold a meeting to discuss when the workers will be rehired, but a meeting hasn’t been held yet, said Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union Ontario Director Janice Best (The Hamilton Spectator Dec. 4). McGiffen stated that he’s confused by the union’s demand for worker reinstatement, because the strike-ending agreement called for all outstanding issues to be submitted to binding arbitration.

CU employees fin-lit lessons impact students

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WICHITA, Kan. (12/5/07)--Marquis Murphy, an employee of Joplin, Mo.-based Great Plains FCU, says he didn’t know much about finances when he was younger. As the son of a single mother, he lived on cheese sandwiches for lunch and dinner. “That’s why I’m back in the classroom now,” he told the Wichita Eagle (Dec. 4). Murphy, an employee at Great Plains FCU, volunteers the majority of his time to talk to Kansas students about money. They need to learn how to manage their money now so they can make good decisions later, he told the newspaper. Because Murphy said he understands that some children might think of financial literacy as “boring,” he uses comedy and activities to connect with his students. He even uses a Pictionary-themed game to help students identify terms such as “liability,” “bankruptcy,” and “cash flow.” Murphy teaches through his nonprofit, Youth Educational Empowerment Program (YEEP), which is funded through local donations. This year, the program is being taught in six schools, and some of his lessons have been added to the schools’ U.S. History courses. Murphy’s lessons work because of their real-world applications, said Mark Farrar, a local high school teacher. For instance, Murphy showed Farrar’s students how much they could save annually by not eating fast food every day for lunch. His effectiveness also is evident in a story Murphy likes to tell about a former student. The young woman had $3,000 in a savings account, and decided to place it in a certificate of deposit. She proudly told Murphy that she was going to receive $182 in interest by the end of the year. Managing money is a “character thing,” but it’s also something that everyone deals with on a daily basis, Murphy told the newspaper.

Carolina Postals Operation CU Troop a success

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (12/5/07)--An idea by a Carolina Postal CU manager to help troops stationed overseas has not only come to fruition, but it also has become a success. Operation CU Troop, conceived by Carolina Postal Branch Manager Nelle Baldwin, is finishing up its deliveries to U.S. troops over the next few weeks (North Carolina Credit Union League’s Weekly Update Nov. 29). As part of the program, nine North Carolina credit unions partnered with the $62 million asset, Charlotte-based Carolina Postal this year to gather food and toiletry items that were needed by overseas U.S. troops. The collection drive stretched throughout the state. Lions’ Share CU in Salisbury helped move the drive forward by reaching out to credit union members and business partners. “We collected a ton of food, batteries and personal supplies,” said Lions Share President/CEO John McGrail. “We even got 200 international calling cards donated.” Other credit union assisting with Operation CU Troop include: Members CU, Winston-Salem; North State Telco CU, High Point; American Partners FCU, Reidsville; State Employees CU, Raleigh; Truliant FCU, Winston-Salem; Lithium FCU, Bessemer City; Carolina FCU, Cherryville; and Winston-Salem City ECU. Additional food and toiletries were gathered by credit union volunteers at Carolina Postal, and are being sorted and packed into gift packets by Junior ROTC Cadets at the Phillip O. Berry High School in Charlotte. The credit union volunteers and cadets will deliver the gift packets to the USO Office at the Charlotte airport. More than 16,000 troops are coming through the USO Center at the airport during the months of December and January. Christmas cards, notes of support and elementary-school student drawings are being included in each gift packet handed out to the service men and women as they head back overseas. “This year’s support was phenomenal by our members and our fellow credit unions and shows the cooperative spirit of our credit unions,” said Joy Watts, CEO of Carolina Postal. “We are hoping to make this an even broader event next year due to the success of Operation CU Troop in 2007.”

Tax scam doesnt fool former CU employee

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DECATUR, Ala. (12/5/07)--On Monday morning, Leree Reeves of Decatur received a call from a man who identified himself as an employee of the Social Security Administration. The man told Reeves that he was going to refund her $1,500--an amount he claimed she had overpaid in taxes. To give her the money, he said that he needed her social security number and date of birth (WAFF 48 News Dec. 4). But Reeves wasn’t fooled. As the former employee of a credit union, she knew that no government agency would call her about a refund. And though the man had Reeves’ name, address, and phone number, he wouldn’t tell Reeves his real name, she told WAFF. Reeves said if she had fallen for the scam, her savings account would have been completely cleared. Reeves wants to warn people about similar scams so that they don’t lose their money to “dishonest people,” she said. The Internal Revenue Service has issued warnings in Alabama about the tax scam. The Better Business Bureau in Alabama has received calls from a number of potential victims, WAFF said.

SEIU organizer credits her CU for mortgage help

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NEW YORK (12/5/07)--Eight years ago, Onika Shepherd received a loan from a credit union so that she could buy a car. Shepherd, who was working part-time and attending school at Queens College, thought of credit unions as places that provide personal or auto loans--until she went to see a mortgage broker who recommended a high-interest loan for the home she wanted to buy (New York Daily News Dec. 3). Shepherd, 29, makes $46,000 annually as a Service Employees International Union (SEIU) membership organizer, and couldn’t afford what her broker had suggested. After talking with a colleague, Shepherd consulted with SEIU’s credit union, 1199 SEIU FCU. With the help of her credit union, Shepherd was able to purchase a Queens home in her price range--$350,000. She put 5% down, and the credit union provided her with a 30-year fixed rate mortgage at 6.87%, the newspaper said. Shepherd is able to make her monthly payments and added she may switch to biweekly payments in the future, but will first consult with her credit union manager. Shepherd’s manager helped her with her mortgage, and according to Shepherd, “That’s how it’s supposed to be at a credit union.” William Mellin, CEO of the New York State Credit Union League, said that half of New York credit unions offer home loans to their members. However, they offer the loans conservatively--which means no mortgages with short-term teaser or interest-only adjustable rates are issued, he said. Mellin said he anticipates more people will join credit unions for mortgage help. New York state currently has 4.2 million credit union members.

CU System briefs (12/04/2007)

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* WARRENVILLE, Ill. (12/5/07)--On Friday, Central CU Fund and Members United Corporate FCU officially merged. The National Credit Union Administration approved the merger in September. John R. Caulfield, president/CEO, St. Mary's CU, Marlborough, Mass., and Central Fund’s previous board chair, has been appointed to Members United’s board of directors. Members United Corporate FCU has $12.1 billion in assets ... * GERMANTOWN, Md. (12/5/07)--On Nov. 1, Mid-Atlantic FCU in Germantown helped sponsor the Community Services for Autistic Adults and Children (CSAAC) second annual honors gala, “A Change in the Weather … Change the Climate for Children and Adults with Autism.” The event, in Bethesda, hosted 325 guests and raised $100,000 for the CSAAC Foundation. CSAAC is part of Mid-Atlantic FCU’s Business Affiliate program, which allows companies in Montgomery County to offer membership in the credit union as a part of their benefits package. Mid-Atlantic has more than $200 million in assets … * SAN ANTONIO, Texas (12/5/07)--More than 500 people braved the cold to donate holiday turkeys for the needy during Security Service FCU’s Turkey Round-Up with the San Antonio Food Bank. (From left) SSFCU Volunteer Corps member Angie Enriquez accepts a turkey from Tom Romanello at one of the credit union’s north central service centers. The two-day drive generated twice as many turkeys as last year. Security Service FCU has $4.1 billion in assets. (Photo provided by Security Service FCU) … * NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (12/5/07)--1st Advantage FCU is offering its members alternatives to payday lending with financial counseling in response to the growing number of payday lenders in the area (Daily-Press Nov. 25). The credit union’s loans have lower interest rates than those of payday lenders at 17.95%, and the credit union requires members to put 5% of each loan into their savings account. 1st Advantage joins other area credit unions, such as Bayport CU, Newport News, and Langley FCU, who are offering their members affordable short-term loans. There has been an increase in the number of payday lenders, said George R. Dudley Jr., Bayport CEO, and credit unions needed to do something to help members … * BOULDER, Colo. (12/5/07)--Boulder Valley CU of Boulder, Colo., announced that it has partnered with Eco-Cycle to begin taking steps toward becoming a Zero Waste Company. The credit union also purchased energy-efficient lighting, office equipment, recycled paper and other office supplies. Solar panels and energy-efficient windows were installed in the credit union’s largest branch, and it recently launched www.WeCareColorado.com to promote eco-friendly efforts. In March, the credit union began working with members to help them “go green” by offering discounts on loans for purchasing fuel-efficient vehicles and installing solar panels on their homes. Boulder Valley has $153 million in assets …

Filene Three keys to effective youth credit score programs

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AUSTIN, Texas (12/5/07)--There are three components to effective credit score programs for youth: education, marketing and financial products, said Ben Rogers, program coordinator of the Filene Research Institute’s CU Tomorrow Initiative, at the Credit Union National Association's Your Essential Strategies (YES) Summit in Austin. CU Tomorrow works with state leagues, universities and other organizations to make credit unions more relevant-- as financial institutions and employers--to young adults. Rogers spoke about credit worthiness and how credit unions can build credit with young adults. But first, he noted that:
* Younger people have lower scores; * It takes five-to-six years of debt repayment history to build a good credit score; * Young people are more likely to earn low and sporadic wages, making them more likely to miss payments; and * The credit report market could be worth $860 million by 2010 (USA Today).
Rogers detailed the credit union response. “Education is a good start, and it's where most credit unions do start, but it needs to be coupled with marketing and tangible products to be most effective.” Rogers also discussed an example from Beehive CU in Salt Lake City that used Facebook to advertise a credit score improvement seminar. He also spoke about Filene’s I3 (ideas, innovation and implementation) project, Smart Score. The program targets a group of members, mails them their credit scores with information on improvement, and follows up with the group quarterly. Credit unions need to bring the average age of their members down, and use the opportunities they have to “reinvigorate credit unions as the first choice for their financial institution,” Rogers said.

CUs loan growth delinquency ratio up

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MADISON, Wis. (12/5/07)--Credit union loan growth increased and savings growth slowed in October, pushing the movement-wide loan-to-share ratio to its highest level since 1979, according to the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) monthly sample of credit unions.
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With loan growth outpacing savings growth, the loan-to-savings ration increased to 84.3% in October from 83.4% in September. The liquidity ratio, which is the ratio of surplus funds maturing in less than one year to borrowings, plus liabilities--dropped to 16.9% in October from 17.8% in September. Credit union loan growth increased 0.9% in October and 7.2% over the past 12 months. Adjustable-rate mortgages led loan growth, increasing 3.6% during October, the biggest monthly increase since July 2006. Other loans, second mortgages, credit card loans, and fixed-rate first mortgages followed, increasing 2.4%, 1.6%, and 0.7% respectively, during the October. Second mortgages, fixed-rate mortgages and credit card loans have grown 1.5%, 14.7% and 14.3% respectively, over the past 12 months.
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Credit union savings balances declined 0.2% in October, but increased 5.5% over the past 12 months. Certificates (1.6%), money market accounts (1.3%), and individual retirement accounts (0.9%), increased, while share drafts (3.4%) and regular shares (2.2%) declined during October. Even though loan balances grew at a healthy rate, loan delinquency rates increased marginally. “Nationwide, credit unions' delinquency ratio rose again, but it's still extremely low compared to long-term historical standards,” Bill Hampel, CUNA chief economist, told a weekly CUNA press teleconference Monday. “Credit union delinquencies are more related to the collateral damage from members who have subprime loans elsewhere and are having difficulty balancing their household budgets after their mortgage interest rate reset. “Some parts of the country are affected more than others, and credit unions in those areas need to be careful during the course of the economic downturn,” he continued. In terms of asset quality, the credit union 60-plus day delinquency rate is up slightly from September (0.84%). The credit union movement’s overall capital-to-asset ratio is 11.6%, up slightly from September (11.5%). The total dollar amount of credit union capital is $89 billion.

Entries being accepted for CUNA 2008 Diamond Awards

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MADISON, Wis. (12/5/07)--Credit union marketing and business development professionals can share their achievements by entering the 2008 Diamond Awards, sponsored by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Marketing and Business Development Council. Entries are now being accepted in 35 categories to acknowledge the best in credit union marketing and business development nationwide. Categories range from electronic marketing to business/select employee group development mail, and from newsletters to retail merchandising. Entries are evaluated based on strategy, creative concept, design and production, copy and communication, and results. Entries for the awards must be received by 5 p.m. (CST) Jan. 11. All entries received by Jan. 4 will receive the “early bird discount,” with no additional entrance fees required. For anyone entering the Web site marketing category, all entries must be received no later than Dec. 21. Judging will take place Jan. 24-25, with all winners notified via e-mail no later than Feb. 1. Awards will be presented at the 2008 CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council Conference March 16-19, in Nashville, Tenn., at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center. For entry forms and additional information, use the link.