Last fall I participated in the Eastern European Credit Union Congress where I was asked to speak on credit union advocacy in the United States. The U.S. is not unlike other movements in that governmental bodies determine the fate or vitality of credit union movements based on the powers they provide and the corresponding regulatory structures they implement.
Engaging with policymakers is a cultural expectation of our democratic process; while this culture transcends the U.S., it is certainly not the norm in every country.
During the Conference, a Russian regulatory official addressed the group. The Russian credit union leaders were not satisfied with the dialogue, and openly pressed the official for clarity and openness. The conversation became heated, and in my estimation was an excellent example of grassroots lobbying in its purest form. I’m not sure whether the Russian credit union leaders considered this advocacy or just plain taking care of their own. Either way, it achieved the same end.
Credit unions world-wide face similar challenges and all have the fundamental interest of improving the economic position of consumers. Whether in Iowa, Washington, or Warsaw, our movement must continue to engage with government, deal with competitive interests, and ensure public confidence through safe and sound practices.
The more I learn about the World Council of Credit Unions, the more respect I have for the organization and their staff. They are truly credit union missionaries; and people the world-over have had their lives changed for the better due to their work. WOCCU staff is a dedicated lot. I watched them work all day, only to start working again in the evening to respond to issues in parts of the world where the workday was just beginning. WOCCU is perpetually on duty.
I’ve learned much from WOCCU that we will apply in Iowa to create greater social and economic opportunity for consumers; hopefully we will do it with the same spirit and diligence that they bring to the movement.
Patrick Jury, President
Iowa CU League
West Des Moines, Iowa
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