When Rivermark Members Speak, Legislators Listen

In a remarkable demonstration of effective grassroots advocacy, thousands of Rivermark Community Credit Union members said “no” to big banks last week. They wasted no time responding to a call to action sent to them by Rivermark’s President and CEO, Scott Burgess.

Burgess was among more than 50 credit union leaders who attended the spring Leadership Symposium presented by the Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) and CUES Northwest on April 24. During interactive presentations, legislative updates and media/message training at the symposium, attendees were consistently fired up discussing the bank lobby’s attack on credit unions. Legislation attempting to impose additional regulatory burden is already dead in the Oregon Legislature, but the push to lift the credit union corporate tax exemption is active in up to twenty states and is being discussed at federal levels.

That afternoon, the Association’s online petition, Saynotobigbanks.com already had an impressive number of supporters—over 4,000. But Burgess and other advocates saw no reason thousands more could not sign before the petition is presented to legislators.

By mid afternoon, Burgess had coined an email to about 30,000 Rivermark members, asking if they would take a minute to sign the online petition.

“We believe this is only the beginning of a protracted attack by the banking lobby,” Burgess wrote in his email to members. “Your continued support will undoubtedly be important, both to Rivermark and to credit unions across the State.”

Within a few hours after Rivermark’s team hit the “send” button, the membership army was in action. They added more than 2,000 additional signatures by that evening, and over 7,000 consumers had signed by Friday.

This isn’t the first time Rivermark’s members, staff and directors have answered an advocacy call this year. Earlier in the legislative session, Burgess asked if members would write and email their legislators, and more than 1,400 quickly did so.

“This is such a great demonstration of how powerful grassroots advocacy can be,” said Jennifer Wagner, NWCUA vice president of Legislative Advocacy. “This is Main Street talking, and legislators listen to that. When you see thousands of credit union members step up so quickly, it makes it very clear that they want to protect the not-for-profit, cooperative structure of their credit unions, so that they can continue to see the real, tangible benefits of their membership. If every credit union is able to engage their members at some level, the value of the credit union model will be loud and clear.”


Questions? Contact Lynn Heider: 503.350.2225, lheider@nwcua.org.


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