Building an advocacy movement

Building an advocacy movement

Let’s take the energy and momentum gathered during GAC and infuse it back into our credit unions.

March 28, 2018

Another CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) has come and gone. If you were fortunate enough to attend, I hope you left feeling engaged, informed, and revitalized, as I did.

There’s an energy at GAC that permeates everything, from the speakers and networking sessions, to the Herb Wegner Awards, Crashers program and “Hiking the Hill.” It’s this energy that makes the event such an integral date on our industry’s calendar.

After all, the challenges and solutions discussed and lobbied for at GAC arguably have the greatest influence over our future.

Consider our recent success in preserving the credit union system’s tax exemption status during historical tax reform legislation. That was a tremendous victory for our movement—some sectors were not as fortunate.

I genuinely believe the differentiator was the strength, passion, and continuity of our grassroots advocacy over a number of years, if not decades.

While it’s perhaps an overused expression, we may have won the battle but the war goes on. In such a fluid political environment, we should prepare for future fiscal legislation that may still erode our ability to focus on people before profit.

Continuing congressional scrutiny of the tax code could mean new threats to the exemption from a banking industry still smarting from its overwhelming failure to gain any traction on this perennial issue. Similarly, our massive federal debt and its sharp trajectory will increase focus on new tax revenues.

The fact is, we need to continuously advocate for our movement if we’re to educate lawmakers and protect the interests of our credit unions and the millions of members who rely on them every day.

As a committed partner to credit unions, advocacy has and always will be integral to CUNA Mutual Group. We feel a critical responsibility to champion our movement at a legislative level and through influential strategic partnerships, such as the Consumer Federation of America and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

We also understand the financial implications of building an advocacy movement and are proud to be a sponsor or patron of numerous regional and national bodies, including CUNA. Our financial support exceeded $27 million in 2017—including more than $350,000 to support CUAid in the wake of last year’s devastating wildfires and hurricanes.

But CUNA Mutual Group is just one player. We rely on leagues and associations to tirelessly champion our cause at local, state and national levels every single day.

In fact, CUNA, CUNA Mutual Group, and NAFCU jointly filed an amicus brief defending NCUA’s Field of Membership Rule, and we continue to push back against bank attacks.

Collectively, we are also trying to address the recent trial bar litigation regarding credit union websites.

You see, we have always fought together as a movement. That’s why it’s crucial that we take the energy and momentum gathered during events like GAC and infuse it back into our credit unions and with members.

Because as any industry veteran will tell you, our work is never done. We will always need to stand together.

CHRISTOPHER ROE is senior vice president, corporate & legislative affairs, at CUNA Mutual Group.