Boeing Employees' Credit Union of Tukwila, Wash is bracing for a whirlwind of member aid requests in the strike by 33,000 Boeing Co. employees.
The Boeing Co. machinists' walkout is just the latest challenge in a tumultuous year in which the $2 billion-asset credit union's sponsor has been dropping employees. This year the giant corporation has laid off several thousand workers; over the last two years it has cut about 12,000.
The management at the country's third-largest credit union sees potential threats as well as opportunities in the latest upheaval at the aerospace manufacturer.
"This is just another thing we can add to the list," said Gary J. Oakland, president and chief executive. "I don't know what to expect from it yet. It seems to have gotten personal, and when you get into personal elements, reason and common sense don't necessarily rule."
"Overall, I would not like to deal with the situation," he said.
A strike is nothing new for Mr. Oakland. He was behind the wheel at Boeing Employees' when machinists walked out for 48 days in 1989; spokesmen from both sides have said the current strike could last more than 30 days.
The credit union scraped through the last strike without any harm, and Mr. Oakland said it was possible that will happen again.
But the current job displacements have caused the credit union's delinquency ratio to tick up to 0.33% in the second quarter of 1995, the first time delinquency has risen since 1993, according to figures from Callahan & Associates, a Washington-based consulting firm. The strike could lead to further delinquencies. Nevertheless, Mr. Oakland, a self-proclaimed optimist, sees a business opportunity for the credit union in marketing special assistance loans. The loans, which can go up to $5,000, have the same rate as a signature loan, but the borrower doesn't need to be earning money to qualify.
Loan payments also can be deferred, he said.
Boeing Employees' is going to take other steps to provide assistance to members.
Besides offering credit counseling, Boeing Employees' officials will ask the strikers' other creditors to back off, when necessary, Mr. Oakland said.
"We want to make sure members don't lose their credit history, or their home or their car," he said.
The credit union also will grant deferments on existing loans. Recent loans will be given a 60-day deferment period, he said, while the repayment schedule of more mature loans can be stretched by 90 days or more.
Boeing Employees' took similar actions during the last strike, Mr. Oakland said.
"Both the company and the union expressed gratitude that the credit union did things to make sure life wasn't too disrupted," he said.