What Members Are Also Alleging
During a press conference last week hosted by DFCU Owners United, a group fighting the conversion of DFCU Credit Union to a bank, the group it announced it had sufficient signatures on a petition to recall the board of directors. Members shared the following with The Credit Union Journal.
* One member who asked that he not be identified was applauded for collecting 387 signatures for the petition drive in less than a week. He said he did it simply through word of mouth.
* Since an unsuccessful attempt by DFCU officials to have police remove the truck emblazoned with an anti-conversion message from the street near the Oakwood-Beech branch (the credit union said it was obstructing access to a driveway), a DFCU mail van has been parked in that same spot, members said. Nevertheless, the Ford truck that towers over most other vehicles is hard to miss wherever it roams.
Members claimed that they have seen employees park their vehicles on the street instead of in the credit union lot, which has ample parking spaces.
Member Ray Ward, the proud owner of the truck, said he joined the fight after repeated attempts to find out how a conversion would benefit him. "I went in on my own late last year and was insulted by the comparison between the credit union and Ford, my employer for many years."
Ward said he offered his vehicle to DFCU Owners United after one too many times of hearing DFCU's PR spokesperson, Kim Gabbert, say, "It's a highly regulated process" that required secrecy on the CU's part. The NCUA confirmed that it had no such "gag orders" in place. "I'm appalled. I'm outraged," Ward told the audience. "I don't want to be part of a bank."
Ward, who said he and his wife have a "hefty mortgage" with DFCU, will find a way to take their business elsewhere "even if it costs us" should the conversion be successful.
* Bruce Gearns alleged that DFCU's Kim Gabbert argued that an older couple conducting credit union business could not use the CU parking lot because they wanted to sign the recall petition. "When I said, 'They own the credit union,' she said, 'Well, they don't own the parking lot,'" he said.
* Several members reported that their yard signs that read "Don't Make Our Credit Union A Bank" have disappeared.
* One member said he was "mislead" into voting "YES" on the conversion ballot by the prize offerings. "I'm blind in one eye, 74 years old and suffering from senility," he told the crowd. "I want my ballot back."
Frustrated that he cast his ballot without first reading the information, several members suggested that he repent by telling his story to as many people as possible so they don't make the same mistake.
* Linda Malec, spokesperson for DFCU Owners United, said she, too, ran into a member who said he voted "YES" only because of the prize lures. He promised to sign a petition for a recall of board members.
* One member said a co-worker told him that her neighbor was hired by DFCU Financial to call people and ask them to vote "YES" on the conversion. Another reported that a fellow employee said he received one of those solicitation calls at Ford Motor Co., where he works, which sparked frustration by Malec, who works in Ford's human services department. "That's illegal and needs to be reported right away," she said. "They can't solicit people at work."
* DFCU Financial apparently thought so much of the coverage received in a recent Detroit Free Press article that they have included a link to it from its CU website. The article suggested the dissident members were just being nostalgic, romantic and resistant to change.
* Peter Blohm was standing on a sidewalk juggling a picket sign, a cup of Starbucks coffee and a petition. When a member walked over and agreed to sign the petition, he turned to one of the many employees guarding the perimeter of the CU and said, "Hey, can you hold my sign?" He said the employee whispered, "I wish I could."
DFCU has declined comment to The Credit Union Journal.