brakes on competition within the industry. A group of five credit union leaders calling themselves the Committee for Equitable Chartering Policies is trying to whip up a letter-writing campaign to the National Credit Union Administration. They want the agency to revisit regulations with an eye toward softening the destructive impact of competition within the industry. "Increased competition among credit unions must be balanced against the threat to the cooperative nature of credit unions and the credit union movement," the five credit union executives said in a letter sent to selected credit unions since late October. "If competition from other credit unions, rather than other financial services providers, results in the elimination of credit unions, the members and potential members ultimately are the losers." "The first push is to get a pulse from the industry and then encourage them to write the NCUA," said Marla Shepard, chief executive of Santel Federal Credit Union, San Diego. The committee has communicated with several hundred institutions since August. The NCUA is looking to bring some consistency to its rules governing membership base expansions, overlaps, and mergers, said NCUA Executive Director Karl Hoyle. Four of the committee members come from California, where relatively small groups like $48 million-asset United Food Commercial Workers Local 1288 go head to head with industry behemoths like Patelco Credit Union, San Francisco, and Golden 1 Credit Union, Sacramento. In fact, it was an incident in Los Angeles that brought the committee together this past summer, said Charles Topjian, president of the Fresno- based United Food Workers credit union. Lockheed Federal Credit Union merged with a credit union that served Los Angeles County public works employees. Alarmed that giant Lockheed Federal would poach on the county employees credit unions, Public Works Employees Credit Union sued the NCUA to block the merger. Public Works Employees claimed the agency broke its own rules by failing to take the credit unions' interests into account in approving the merger.

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