Episode 28: The Democratic Deficit at Vermont Federal Credit Union

Full Episode:

VFCU Discussion:

“The Vermont FCU Board’s Orwellian Attack on Credit Union History”

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#BlazeFAILS: The Free Speech Fight for the Future of Bank Transfer Day

Since first coming to understand the implications of the credit union model during the 2008 BTD MaskFinancial Crisis, I’ve been firmly convinced that promoting a mass consumer migration to cooperative finance is one of the most effective tactics for realistically challenging the political and economic hegemony of the Too Big To Fail Banks. As such, I was incredibly excited when, at the peak of the Occupy Movement’s influence in October 2011, movement energy coalesced around the idea of “Bank Transfer Day.” With an unpopular Bank of America fee adding fuel to the fire, the call went out for people to withdraw their deposits en masse from the Too Big To Fail banks and deposit them in credit unions on November 5th, in a nod the the date of the revolution in “V For Vendetta.”

The spark was provided by a Facebook event created by Los Angeles art-gallery owner Kristen Christian that spread virally through the then rapidly-growing Occupy social media networks. Within days, tens of thousands of people had RSVP’d to the event, and working groups affiliated with Occupy General Assemblies in cities around the world began working to promote participation and to plan activities in their communities (examples from Portland, L.A., and Vermont). As a result of that strenuous organizing work, hundreds of thousands of people moved their resources into the cooperative financial system in the fall of 2011.

However, as widespread and diverse groups threw themselves into getting ready for the big day, troubling signs began to emerge from the center. As the creator of the event that went viral, Kristen Christian was the natural point of contact for the media, and she soon parleyed that role into becoming the sole, self-appointed spokesperson for the movement who gave numerous interviews to the media. By using that position of power to quickly disaffiliate Bank Transfer Day from the Occupy Movement (with its commitment to democratic processes and rotating spokespeople), she was able to avoid any expectations of accountability to the community of Bank Transfer Day activists. Continue reading

A Win for Democracy at Vermont Federal Credit Union!

by Matt Cropp

Note: These are my initial reflections of my experience of tonight’s Annual Meeting since, sadly, my video camera decided this would be a fine evening to crap out. Some things could slightly be out of order and omitted, so I will try to get my hands on the official minutes and link them here as soon as they become available.

I’ve been to the past four or five VFCU meetings, and this years was, by far, the most well attended. It was the 60th Anniversary celebration, so, instead of being at the DoubleTree it was at the Sheraton, and included a dinner for which close to 400 people RSVP’d. The meeting business began uneventfully, and the nominating committee presented the incumbent two candidates, who, as it was a non-competitive contest, were declared by the chair to have been elected by acclamation, to which a few people mentioned that they dissented from that statement.

The meeting then rolled around to new business, for which I raised my hand and made the proposal which our group of Vermont Federal members had developed. After noting that none of the assembled members had had any say in the “election” that’d just taken place, and that the nominating committees at other co-ops of which I am a member (such as City Market and the Intervale Community Farm) go to great lengths to recruit candidates and facilitate competitive elections, I proposed the following resolution:

“We, the assembled members of the Vermont Federal Credit Union, instruct the nominating committee to include on the 2014 Annual Meeting ballot all legally qualified candidates who have expressed an interest in serving on the Board of Directors, so as to ensure that members have a meaningful voice in the composition of the Board that represents them.” Continue reading

Credit Union Annual Meeting Season, 2013!

democracySpring is a time of many wonders, but for Vermont co-operators it means one thing: credit union annual meetings! That’s right, it’s time again to practice democracy at our cooperative financial institutions. If you want to make sure your values are reflected by the institution that controls your life savings, check below for the date of your Vermont credit union’s annual meeting!

  • Granite Hills Credit Union: Monday, March 11th at 5pm at the Knights of Columbus on Pine Hill Road in Barre. There will be a short presentation, prizes and giveaways. The meeting will feature a spaghetti and meatballs dinner with salad, rolls, coffee/tea and dessert.
    • Member (Adult or Child member) — $6.50.
    • Non-member child 6 years of age or younger — $6.50
    • Non-member over 6 years of age — $7.50.
    RSVP for dinner by March 8th; Doors open at 4:45 pm; business meeting begins at 5:30 pm.
  • New England Federal Credit Union: Wednesday, March 27th at 5:30 pm at the Credit Union’s headquarters at 141 Harvest Lane in Williston. Guest speaker, Eric Hanson of Hanson & Doremus Investment Management, will discuss “The US and Global Economy.”
  • Vermont Federal Credit Union: Thursday, April 11th at the Sheraton in South Burlington. Doors at 5pm, dinner at 6:15 (RSVP deadline of March 29th), meeting at 7:15.
  • VSECU: March 13th at the Capital Plaza in Montpelier. H’ors d’oeuvres at 5:30, followed by a free estate planning seminar and the annual meeting.

P.S. Annual meeting dates were nowhere to be found on many CU websites. If you’d like your Annual Meeting to be added to the list, please send the info to our Facebook page.