Port Worker Lockout Ends, But CUs Still Helping

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President Bush's decision last week to order both sides in the labor dispute at ports along the West Coast to enter mediation came just as many credit unions were feeling some of the effects of the strike.

Several credit unions made up of members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) had set up special programs to help workers make ends meet while they were not receiving paychecks.

Georgene Fisher, operating supervisor of Portland Local No. 8 FCU in Portland, Ore., told The Credit Union Journal the credit union was allowing members to defer payments, or make interest-only payments, during the lockout. "We are not doing any repossessions or going after any money during these hard times for the longshoremen," said Fisher.

Portland Local No. 8 FCU said it was prepared to issue coupons to help members purchase gasoline and food if the lockout was to go on, she added. The CU was also considering special loans to help members pay off loans to other creditors. "The board is backing the ILWU workers," Fisher said.

'Living Expense Loans'

Ruth Bryson, manager of ILWU Local 24 FCU in Aberdeen, Wash., said none of its 480 members had been affected at the time she spoke with The Credit Union Journal, but it was prepared to help with interest-only payments for loans, "living expense" loans, and a waiver of early withdrawal penalties on certificates if members need access to cash.

DeLin Drake, CEO of Longshoremen's Local 4 FCU in Vancouver, Wash., said the credit union helped one member who had not received his paycheck after his employer did not turn in payroll. "We had two members who were not paid last week, but one had enough funds to make his payments. We helped the other with a special loan," she said.

According to Drake, her CU will write extensions for those who need it. Longshoremen's Local 4 has just over 1,500 members and $16-million in assets.

In Wilmington, Calif., one of the busiest port cities in the country, ILWU CU was offering weekly emergency lockout loans in the amount of $1,000, along with 30-day extensions, said John Coleman, the credit union's president.

"We also are offering 30-day extensions on loans, people just need to come in and request it," he said.

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