‘Go Forth and Fight for CUs’

Be the ones Congress can't say no to, May advises.

March 20, 2012

Even more beautiful than the cherry blossoms gracing the National Mall are the 4,000 credit union faces attending the 2012 GAC, CUNA Chairman Harriet May said during the CUNA Annual General Meeting on Monday.

“The words you share with legislators can’t be overshadowed by bankers’ ads,” she said. “Be the ones [Congress] can’t say ‘no’ to.”

During her final appearance as CUNA chairman, May praised the leadership of CUNA President Bill Cheney and lauded CUNA for:

• Promoting financial reform. CUNA’s advocacy efforts helped to ensure that only three credit unions fall under the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) jurisdiction. “And the agency knows we’re the ones protecting consumers,” she said.

• Convincing Congress credit unions weren’t the cause of the nation’s financial crisis—but they can be the solution to it.

GAC Daily News
Former CUNA Chairman Tom Dorety  presents outgoing CUNA Chairman Harriet May with a lapel pin in honor of her service.

• Cultivating strong relationships with members of Congress. For the first time, credit unions were called to testify on a banker’s bill, she said. “We now have members of Congress who stand up for credit unions.”

• Maintaining credit unions’ tax exemption.

• Leading the charge on the interchange fee debate. “The grassroots outpouring was so significant that we were designated as a force to be reckoned with,” May said. “We showed that we were watching.”

Credit unions are rising, and their future is bright, Cheney added. But challenges remain, including the crushing regulatory burden and the need to improve credit unions’ operating environment.

“The current regulatory burden isn’t sustainable,” he said. “How can credit unions focus on members when they spend so much time and money on compliance? We have to reduce this burden—and we will.”

Cheney urged credit unions to attend NCUA’s listening sessions and share their concerns directly with NCUA Chairman Debbie Matz.

Although May retired from GECU of El Paso, she’s not quitting credit unions. “I’ll be back. And when I am, I’ll want to see that you’ve remained diligent on member financial education and that everyone knows why we do what we do. Go forth and fight for credit unions.”