Opposition Group Has Signatures For Board Recall

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Members of DFCU Owners United, a group opposing the conversion bid by DFCU Credit Union, said last week that they had gathered nearly triple the number of signatures needed to force their credit union to hold a special election to recall nine board members.

At press time, the group said it had more than 1,300 names on petitions, but was continuing the drive as part of its overall effort to educate members about how the conversion might affect them.

During a press conference at The Dearborn Inn, DFCU Owners United representatives Margaret Blohm and Linda Malec said they would present their CU with the signatures "very soon."

According to the credit union's bylaws, Blohm said, DFCU officials will be required to call a special recall meeting within 30 days after receipt of the petitions. In the meantime, the anti-conversion group is collecting names of possible replacement board members.

"It doesn't stop the (conversion) process," Blohm said of the recall. "But we think the new board members would not want to go forward with this."

The petition drive is part of a campaign by DFCU Owners United to stop their credit union from converting to a for-profit mutual savings bank. It includes picketing and newspaper and radio advertisements.

Blohm said the directors were targeted in the recall effort because they violated CU bylaws and NCUA regulations by failing to allow members proper review of materials related to the conversion.

DFCU sent out ballots and disclosure statements in late March, launching the 90-day process. Those ballots were delayed after NCUA requested changes be made to ballots initially submitted to the agency. Final voting will take place during a special meeting on June 21 at the Hyatt Regency Dearborn.

Jerry Brandman, COO of DFCU, who along with two other CU officials attended the press conference, said he was disappointed by the recall effort.

"Basically, we feel it is irresponsible to remove the entire board of such a strong financial institution," he said.

Guest speakers and supporters of the recall included Ron Unger, former CEO of DFCU Financial, and Tom Moylan, former EVP of Marketing at DFCU Financial.

"It really saddens me to be here," Moylan told the audience. "To position myself in opposition to my credit union is a difficult thing for me to do. But I feel strongly about this issue."

Moylan and Unger both refuted the CU's claims that a conversion is necessary due to economic challenges, a narrowly defined field of membership and its inability as a credit union to raise capital.

"For 50 plus years, this credit union has grown in good times and bad by focusing its entire purpose on serving the members," Moylan said. "It bothers me to see that culture erode."

Unger said he would rather see the credit union try an alternative that includes dispersing the extra capital to members by way of lower loan rates, higher savings interest, reduced fees and improved member services.

"Given the strength of DFCU, they should deploy the capital to benefit the members," he said. "Detroit right now really needs a strong credit union to serve their needs-not a bank."

Unger called DFCU's handling of the conversion process "woefully flawed" and unfair to its member-owners.

Brandman and DFCU employees Mike Kruczek, CFO, and Kim Ward Gabbert, public relations director, who were not invited to the meeting, sat quietly in the back of the room.

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