Northwest Credit Unions Step Up Interchange Battle, Urging Members to Join Fight

As the wave of pressure against the proposed Interchange changes reaches its apex, the Association and its members are asking Congress to delay implementation of the Durbin amendment through increased grassroots and media outreach.

It is particularly important for credit unions and their members to contact their senators urging them to support two bills (S.575 and H.R. 1081) that seek to stop and study the effects of the cap on interchange fees

It is thought that 60 senators will need to support the measures in order to overcome the opposition of retailers and Senator Dick Durban (D-IL), who originally proffered the amendment.

Credit unions can find talking points, sample lobby posters, website content, and other materials on the CUNA website.

“We believe the more the public is aware of this legislation’s impact on them as consumers, the greater the likelihood that Congress will step back and take a more careful look before implementation,” said NWCUA SVP & General Counsel Stacy Augustine.

Oregon and Washington credit unions are already off to a strong start with letters and e-mails flying into the Congressional offices. Over 1,500 individual e-mails have been delivered and the number continues to grow. As of late last week, Fibre Federal Credit Union was leading the way for Washington credit unions, while Unitus Community Credit Union was topping the Oregon charts. There are reports of friendly competition between member credit unions; Fibre FCU CEO Larry Hoff has bet two executives an unconfirmed amount that they cannot match his credit union’s combined letter count to Congress.

Nationally, there have been more than 90,700 credit union contacts made to Congress.

“Credit union efforts are making a difference in Congress,” said NWCUA Director of Legislative Advocacy Jennifer Wagner. “There is still time to contact senators and representatives and urge them to help credit unions and their members.”

Editorial boards are important thought leaders for voters and politicians, so staff has also been prepping members for appearances before these bodies. NWCUA Chairman Bill Anderson, CEO of Mid Oregon Credit Union, represented the Association before the Bend Bulletin; while Stephen Pagenstecher of Valley Credit Union and Kevin Cole of MaPS Credit Union appeared before the Statesman Journal, which resulted in a positive article. The best news came just a few days after Matt Purvis of Northwest Community Credit Union made the credit union case to the Eugene Register-Guard; Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), who represents Eugene, signed on as a co-sponsor of the Interchange House bill, H.R. 1081.

The Association has also teamed up with the Electronic Payments Coalition, an alliance of financial groups and payment card networks fighting the Durbin amendment. The Coalition created targeted print and radio advertisements in Washington State urging Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) to support delaying the implementation of the amendment. The Association’s name and logo were used in the ads. Senator Murray is currently listed as “undecided” in the whip count. You can find the ads here.

CUNA has also launched outreach efforts using social media sites YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. The national association posted a new video on its interchange Facebook fan page, Credit Unions on Interchange. Credit unions can circulate the video to members and suggest they “like” the Facebook fan page. It has also launched new Twitter feeds, @CUsonInterchang and @JohnQLittleguy, to respond to online chatter and misinformation. CUNA asks that all interchange- and credit union-related tweets include the hash tags #creditunions, #swipefees and #intcg, which will help credit unions direct the online conversation. 

Questions about the interchange issue? Contact a member of the Association’s Legislative Affairs team:

Jennifer Wagner, Director of Legislative Advocacy
Mark Minickiello, Vice President, Legislative Affairs
Stacy Augustine, Senior Vice President & General Counsel

Posted in Federal, NWCUA.