Expect 'Full-Court Press'

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In the wake of multiple comments from bank trade groups about "forcing" credit unions to convert to bank charter, CUNA is suggesting credit unions ready themselves for a "full-court press" by the banks.

The evidence:

* American Banker, an affiliate of The Credit Union Journal, reported that America's Community Bankers CEO Diane Casey Landry said the trade association continues to send letters to large credit unions encouraging them to consider converting to a bank charter.

* American Banker also reported that the American Bankers Association intends to put together an "aggressive lobbying" effort to convince credit unions to convert. ABA Spokesperon Charlotte Birch told The Credit Union Journal that this represents "nothing dramatically different from the past two years," and said that the trade association is merely trying to "raise awareness that some credit unions have changed, and so should their rules." When asked how ABA would try to "force" CUs to convert, Birch said that "of course, the decision to convert is entirely up to the individual credit union."

* CUNA reported that in a recent Iowa Bankers Association e-newsletter, Jeff Plagge, co-chairman of the ABA's CU Corrdinating Committee, discussed plans to "force" certain CUs to convert to mutual banks. "Our national strategy has been one of credit union 'containment and conversion,'" Plagge wrote.

"That banks could 'force' or cherry pick large credit unions to become banks is disturbing to a movement based on the cooperative structure," CUNA said.

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