Credit union leagues throughout the country are helping their member credit unions find collaborative solutions to the COVID-19 threat.
Tom Kane, president/CEO of the Illinois Credit Union League, says he spends much of his day coordinating and communicating with member credit unions and state regulators as a “go-between.”
He says credit unions have questions about holding the annual meeting and board meetings virtually, and about limited lobby hours and loan modifications.
“There are a lot of questions about what credit unions can do for their members and employees,” Kane says. “Credit unions never figured they would shut down most of their direct member interactions and have most of their staff work from home.”
To that end, the league also hosts human resources to assist credit unions with staffing issues and a small credit union community to deal with the multiple issues they’re facing.
The Illinois League reduced staffing from 115 to roughly 10 employees on Tuesday, and Kane says the offices will be virtually empty, with all staffers working from home in the next day or two.
He says leagues can serve as valuable facilitators during crises like the current one. “Credit unions want to collaborate, and leagues can bring people together when they may not otherwise find each other. Credit unions have never experienced anything like this, but we will get through it by keeping our focus on doing what is best for our employees and members.”
The Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) has organized meetings for CEOs, small credit unions, and special councils, as well as regional huddles and forums on the COVID-19 threat.
In the spirit of unity, NWCUA has opened its COVID-19-related meetings and resources to members, nonmember credit unions in the region, other leagues, and to leaders of credit unions from other states who’ve requested access. More than 1,046 people attended virtual meetings held in mid-March.
NWCUA has created a Coronavirus Preparation & Response Resources website for credit unions. It includes guidance from health and regulatory agencies, compliance information, media outreach resources, and collateral for credit unions to share with their members.
NWCUA-backed legislation passed last year allows credit unions in Oregon and Washington to hold virtual annual meetings. The association is working closely with CUNA and NCUA to propose legislative changes to the Federal Credit Union Act that would give federally chartered credit unions the same flexibility.
“COVID-19 is presenting unprecedented challenges,” says Troy Stang, NWCUA president/CEO and CUNA Board chair. “A situation such as this knows no borders; it will impact every community.
“Our role as credit unions’ trade association is to provide every possible resource and to convene our members and nonmembers alike in responding to their needs and their members’ needs. This is a critical time for collaboration, and we are so impressed with how the credit union movement is working together.”