Bill Moyers and Hippies take on Wall Street
Backbone Campaign Moved Its Money Out of Bank of America
Working to Expand Existing Employee-based Credit Unions is a
Promising Organizing Model for Building Community Power
Let’s kill the “Too Big to Exist Banks” by Starving the Casino
Learn from Our Experience and Use our Tools to Quicken the Pace
Backbone Campaign moved its money out of Bank of America last Week!
Better yet… We moved it into a local credit union that WE helped bring to our community!
Backbone Campaign moved our operating money out of Bank of America and into a local credit union (PSCCU-Vashon) that opened on March 1. And we weren’t the only ones.
As of last Friday, less than one month after the local branch opened:
Over 400 new members have joined in first month of operation. (10,000 person community)
Over $2 million has been moved out of the local BofA, Chase and US Bank.
Three community members are serving on the board.(including Mio, so watch out!
PSCCU has initiated collaborations with local sustainability businesses and nonprofits to bring down interest rates for solar power installations and energy efficiency and weatherization lending.
PSCCU has agreed to work with non-profits, faith and other community groups to establish savings secured loan funds.
And now, due to the influx of new deposits, PSCCU is discounting already competitive mortgage loans by as much as .25% for qualifying loans
AND we created at least 3 new jobs and hopefully many more as we get money circulating
Why Did We Move Our Money?
We love the people that work at the local BofA, just like others love the folks that served them at other branches. That’s why people were so excited that we “stole,” i.e. recruited the management team from a local Chase branch.
Our banker/service provider friends are stuck. They have almost no control over lending decisions anymore. They are not allowed to make decisions on service fees. They have zero creative autonomy to craft finance opportunities customized to the needs of the community like micro-loans or discounted rates for fuel efficient cars or weatherizations. They and the customers they serve have zero control over executive salaries or bonuses, investment decisions, political contributions or lobbying, corporate tax evasion, or who sits on the board of directors.
Our friends who work at the branches of the these Wall Street Banks are not the “evil doers.” But our money does not belong in economic monstrosities that are frankly not “too big to fail,” but rather TOO BIG to EXIST.
A local credit union is accountable to its members. It uses local money to invest in our local economy. it reflects our values and is responsive to the financial needs of our community. As members, we can nominate and elect board members. Profits are returned to members in the form of dividends, lower service charges and better interest rates.
Why Our Story Matters for Others
Ours is a Win-Win-Win story of collaboration between an existing stable credit union ready to invigorate its business, and a community eager for an alternative to the Wall Street banks, an alternative that is both responsive and accountable to them. And you are potentially the third winner – as we are making all our work available to you.
The lessons learned and documents created through this process are relevant and replicable for other communities across the country. Others can save a great deal of time using our strategy and adapting our educational and survey documents for their efforts.
Our group began a process without knowing how it would end. We thought we’d start our own credit union from scratch. OMG! Thank goodness we didn’t do that. We learned from others along the way such as Howland-Enfield Federal Credit Union in Maine, TULIP Credit Union in Olympia, WA, and Premaculture Credit Union in New Mexico. Opportunities emerged that we never anticipated.
The most significant was the opportunity to partner with a small existing credit union PSCCU (Puget Sound Cooperative Credit Union), rather than having to raise the huge amount of start up capital we’d need to run the branch, and self-insure at 7% in order to qualify for a State charter and federal insurance.
PSCCU, like other credit unions is a coop. It is small enough to still be accountable to its members and stable enough to expand. The board is nominated by and elected by the members. The profits are recycled back into the membership through dividends and better loan and saving interest rates.
In our community we were able to recruit experienced management and employees from the local Chase bank because they hungered to be part of the solution – and to utilize their skills in service of the community, not be shackled by an indifferent corporation.
We learned a lot in the process and now we are compiling the tools to help others like you do the same. Just think – IF economic democracy organizers like you – in communities around the country organized constituent groups like: progressive churches, non-profits, transition town clubs, progressive community members concerned with sustainability, and those angry with Wall Street banks into a block of potential members… THEN you too could leverage that collection of partners to negotiate with an existing credit union to create another Win-Win situation. Ultimately, we could collectively move BILLIONS of dollars out of the Wall Street Casino economy.
We are compiling the tools and resources developed by CUVahon, the team that initiated our local effort here:
Call us if we can be of additional assistance.
More photos and captions at the Backbone Flickr site. Backbone Campaign Puppetista and Board Treasurer Doug Skove and I deeply enjoyed starting our PSCCU account!
Just for fun – The above is a goofy and very short video of my opportunity to be the FIRST customer to use the new ATM at the then soon to open credit union.
Chase What Matters [Excerpt from The Vashon Line]
by Matt Lawrence on March 11, 2011
Thirty years later, Patte Wagner is standing up with David, fighting Goliath, and she wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world.
It’s About the People
“We can still do this on an intimate and one-to-one basis”, Patte told me. Working with people to serve their financial needs is the reason why she got into banking in the first place. She came from the non-profit sector (pairing nicely with the credit union, which is also non profit). From the beginning, Patte was more than just a banker, chained to her desk, writing loan documents for bank customers. I have heard her called a Beloved Banker – with a glint of skepticism that it’s even possible.
Seattle was left with a smoking crater after the collapse of WAMU. But from the ashes was a big blue light screaming, “Chase what matters”. WAMU employees lucky enough to still have their jobs lost pensions, college funds, and retirements. Patte decided to stay on as branch manager to steer the bank, and it’s customers through the first few years. And she did, up to the day where she no longer needed to perform that role.
Patte is committed to building a healthy financial community. It’s the reason why she was courted by so many of those smaller banks in Seattle, and it’s why so many people involved with bringing the Credit Union to Vashon approached Patte about her potential involvement.
Patte was toying around with several options of what to do with herself after leaving the bank. She thought about being a aesthetician. She thought about commuting to Seattle, to work at one of the smaller banks – banks that still feel the pain from the WAMU fallout. But at the end of the day, she wanted to continue working with Vashon residents, providing financial services.
Read the original article here:
The CUVahon-PSCCU Initiating Team
The below is photo courtesy of the Vashon Beachcomber, taken by Susan Riemer a few days before the new PSCCU branch opened on Vashon. Pictured from left to right: John Staczek, Jerry Henley, Greg Kruse, Rob Harmon, Bill Moyer, Carolyn Amick, Rex Stratton, and PSCCU VP of marketing Shannon Ellis-Brock. (Not picture, but central to the CUVashon effort are Amy Herbig, Larry Kjellberg, and Ken Atkinson. Also Bob Powell – whose metal art graces the wall above our heads and the ATM)