In late September I announced a number of steps designed to make CUNA a more nimble and more strategic advocacy organization for credit unions.
We’ll raise the bar much higher so we--allied with our state league partners--are best-positioned to advance your interests in advocacy. Initiatives currently underway include:
• Expense reduction: CUNA has been taking steps to streamline its management and operations. So far in 2015 we’ve saved $1.4 million in expenses from our budget.
• Dues reduction: We’re reducing member dues for 2016. Dues notices going out now reflect that. Total dues income for CUNA will be less than 2015. The reduction recognizes the need to continue to make CUNA leaner and more agile and to calculate dues in a way that celebrates and rewards credit union success and asset growth.
• Expanded membership: I’ve proposed creating two new non-voting membership classes for CUNA. They include one for professionals and volunteers, and one for system partners and vendors. The goal is to encourage greater individual advocacy at all levels of the CUNA/league system.
• CUNA/league interdependence: This is the heart of CUNA’s value proposition. It’s an unmatched credit union advocacy force that delivers results. CUNA and the leagues have committed to a new level of cooperation in our service to credit unions, and we’re developing specific steps to take to demonstrate that value to you.
Dick Ensweiler, president/CEO of the Cornerstone Credit Union League, said recently, “Simply put, we’re better together, and can speak with one voice on behalf of credit unions together.” This strong endorsement of our interdependence is one of the best I’ve seen.
A demonstration of our strength and ability to serve credit unions was on full display during the last weeks of September and early October. It was the busiest period of credit union advocacy since CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference last March. More than 170 advocates from eight states were here during one week alone.
In September, 26 state leagues brought over 300 advocates to Washington, D.C., for meetings with members of Congress and regulators. Several more delegations were here in October. And our advocacy didn’t stop on Capitol Hill. Throughout the fall, advocates were here to meet with regulators as well.
Back on Capitol Hill, CUNA/league advocacy efforts secured passage of legislation in the House of Representatives to put safe-harbor provisions in place for the early enforcement of new TILA-RESPA mortgage disclosure rules. (For more on these new rules, check CUNA’s compliance resources.)
In early October, other key bills cleared a key House committee and were on the way for votes in the full House. Most notable is the Risk-Based Capital (RBC) Study Act (Stop and Study) which anticipates a less than satisfactory final RBC rule from NCUA.
Others bills would create an independent inspector general for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), convert the CFPB to a standalone agency governed by a five-member commission (now led by Director Richard Cordray), and correct the Department of Labor’s proposed fiduciary rule.
These are good and notable wins for credit unions. But getting them over the finish line is going to require your engagement in grassroots action to secure the massive involvement of more than 100 million credit union members--the constituents of members of Congress. Think on the scale of AARP, the National Rifle Association, and others. That’s what we need.
Ultimately, the best action we can take together is to create as favorable an operating environment as possible for credit unions, so that every American has the opportunity to choose a credit union as their best financial partner.
Advocacy remains at the heart of CUNA’s purpose, and the steps we’re taking to make your association better and stronger are going to help achieve even more for you.
JIM NUSSLE is president/CEO of CUNA.