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Coop Credit Union coup may be imminent tomorrow
The Coop Credit Union in Berkeley is an alternative to the big (and little?) banks, using people's money to build the community by making loans to local businesses and individuals. It is essential to a healthy local economy. When the Occupy movement asked people to withdraw their money from banks and put it in Credit Unions, it gained many new members. Now a slate of 3 who favor holding the Coop Federal Credit Union to its bylaws and mission are up for removal by the c/u's Supervisory Committee, on false charges. The meeting to remove them is this Tuesday December 3d at 6 pm. Address is below the letter. Can you come and vote No on their removal?
Did you get a message from the Coop Credit Union - a letter with false charges against the 3 most coop minded of the elected board of directors - a message omitting the "other side" of this issue - announcing a meeting with very little advance notice (it's tomorrow, Tuesday) - whose intent is to fire these 3?
Here is a letter from Tim Huet, one of the 3, with their side of the situation, plus another forwarded letter which shows their opposition incorrectly setting up the situation as a union and a racial issue.
This is a matter of great urgency for what-should-be a democratic organization that can do great good for its community.
I'm trying to get this message out to members of the Cooperative Center Federal Credit Union before Tuesday's meeting; I'm writing you as people who hopefully know me as someone who has dedicated myself to building democratic organizations and would not do the things that certain people in power are accusing me of. Please feel encouraged to forward this message on to any friends you know who might be members of the credit union to assist the effort to fight this assault on democracy.
Also forwarded [below] is an email from 'the opposition' that tries to blame Occupy, among other groups, for some kind of undemocratic takeover (when the faction involved in these lies is deeply undemocratic and involved in taking-over/holding-over.
Hello. I have started to receive inquiries from friends and worried credit union members regarding the action of the credit union’s Supervisory Committee to suspend Tye Kirk, Mike Leung, and myself [Tim Huet]. Let me begin by saying that I believe the suspensions reflect a grave governance crisis for the credit union, but I also believe the credit union is financially secure. My primary interest continues to be to revive the credit union as a democratic institution and have it serve its community/members well, even if other parties wish to engage in factional warfare and divert resources that could better serve the members.
I will provide a brief response to the charges here because past experience indicates I might not be given a fair opportunity to respond to charges in the meeting. Though fair process would involve an unbiased investigation, the Supervisory Committee did not even interview me before issuing its charges and suspension. The allegations are that Tye, Mike, and I…
“Attempted to hold one or more Board meetings without giving notice to the other directors”
“At improper meetings attempted to remove two legally seated directors…”
We never endeavored to remove other board directors. We endeavored to have timely legal elections as part of the 2013 annual meeting. I tried everything I could to inform Board Chair Garrett and Vice Chair Shabaka the bylaws called for their terms to end with the next annual meeting unless re-elected at that meeting.
The reason the election could not happen on the meeting date Mr. Shabaka proposed (11/1/13) was because Mr. Garrett, as Board Chair, did not fulfill his legal duty of appointing a Nominating Committee with a sufficient period to seek out qualified candidates. It would be understandable if Mr. Garrett simply forgot that his maximum three-year term was coming to an end (though two annual meetings without an election in a row should never happen in a credit union with three-year terms). But his failure to take appropriate action/responsibility once notified of his lapse is entirely another matter. Instead of seeking guidance and approval from the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) about how we could carry out an election with the greatest haste and least waste of member resources, Mr. Garrett and Mr. Shabaka kept pushing toward an early annual meeting without elections…and apparently stayed on the board without being re-elected. So we had a 2013 “annual meeting” with no elections or substantial opportunity for the members to give input, at the cost of thousands of members’ dollars; and now we will apparently have an extra annual meeting/election in early 2014 (likely costing thousands more of the members’ dollars). Yet the Supervisory Committee (primarily charged with making sure members’ funds are not wasted) ignored this violation.
We tried to organize a meeting of the board within seven days of the annual meeting as the bylaws would appear to require; the bylaws require this meeting primarily to elect new officers (presumably because an election would have happened and there might be occasion/need for a change of officers). There was an effort to reach every board member and the one possible time that Mr. Shabaka, Mr. Leung, Mr. Kirk and I could make was arrived at, with the hope that Mr. Garrett would be able to find a way to fulfill this obligation under the bylaws. But when Mr. Garrett was called and asked about time in the remaining day to meet the bylaw obligation, he would not listen or engage in a cooperative effort to fulfill our obligation; he instead hung up on the caller. Though I expect Mr. Garrett will have more opportunities to speak for himself, he apparently objected that only he as the Chair could call a meeting (not true). But the real issue was that a meeting was required the bylaws; he was responsible as anyone to understand the bylaw requirements; and particularly if he was the only one who could call the meeting he would be the person most responsible for making sure not to violate that bylaw…but he wouldn’t want to have a meeting where he wouldn’t be eligible to be elected to a one-year officer term when he was beyond his election term and it could not be presumed he would be re-elected. So another actual bylaw violation – failure to have the meeting within seven days – due to Mr. Garrett’s inaction and obstruction.
Yet the Supervisory Committee again ignored this in favor of suspending directors trying to work out bylaws that would comply with NCUA regulations, allow for lawful elections, etc. (the bylaws supposedly adopted by the previous board, including Ms. Pitrie of the Supervisory Committee, proved to be a jumble of contradictions that could not possibly have been approved by the NCUA).
This is despite the Supervisory Committee’s claim that it “takes seriously your, and each of our members’ rights, to vote on the composition of your Board.” The Supervisory Committee is required by law to let the members decide on approving suspension and reinstatement…and only if members show up December 3rd who care about democracy will a fair process and result be assured:
Tuesday 12/3/13 6 p.m.
Ed Roberts Campus, above Ashby BART station,
3075 Adeline Street
Thanking you for your consideration,
The following message is forwarded, with many falsehoods, including the characterization of the issue as anti-black and anti-union.
Sent: Thursday, November 28, 2013
To: undisclosed recipients:
Subject: Urgent Please Read:Cooperative Central Federal Credit Union .
Dear Patrons, Community, & Concerned Citizens
Meeting will not be held at AME but at the
Three individuals were recently suspended from CCFCU's BOD after written
evidence of misdoing was uncovered that they "willfully attempted
to use their positions to destroy the safety and security of the credit union.
These individuals used "Occupy" and "the coop movement" to infiltrate
the bod and seize control of the credit union by subverting the activities of the
credit union to their own benefit. they violated the bylaws and procedures of
CCFUC and the NCUA Regulation.
They also attempted to expel the chair and vice chair ( both Black activists and elders? )
If these three individuals stay, the
NCUA (National Credit Union Administration) may shut down the
The Supervisory committee has formally suspended these three
individuals. As a part of the formal process, there will be a special
meeting of the members and nonmembers of CCFCU held at Ed Roberts independent
living center at Ashby Bart at 6:00 pm Tuesday Dec. 03, where the
CCFCU will present the reasons for the suspensions and the accused will
respond to the charges against them.
There may be a Public comment portion of the Agenda where community
members can ask questions and state concerns. then a formal vote will
The black people on the board and Supervisory committees request that
we attend the Special meeting.
Presence does not have to be in a formal capacity, but simply as
individuals and concerned community members.
As a member of the credit
union and of the black worker center I am asking for all to show
solidarity with me in my efforts to preserve this community institution
by attending Tuesday's meeting at 6pm. So that in the near future we
can develop strong ties with the BAWC and the South Berkeley/North
History: The Cooperative Center Federal Credit Union is a 70 year old
community institution with deep roots in community and labor movements.
Beginning with the radical organizing of SF unions resulting in
major strikes. SF Port activity weakened, as powerful forces like Justiin
Herman developed the Port of Oakland as a viable economic alternative
to the now radicalized SF Ports. The Port of Oakland then became a
place where black workers had opportunities to work, organize their
labor , form caucuses within labor unions and eventually establishing
cooperative centers through out Oakland, Berkeley and Richmond.
Institutions that were established during this time include Pacifica
Radio and the Cooperative Center Federal Credit Union. Politicians who
came out of this movement included Mardelle Sherrick (sic), Berkeley's Black
City Councilwoman who served as a political mentor to Ronald Dellums
and Barbara Lee. Many of the black alumni of UCB were nurtured by this
community institution as well.The Credit Union has survived and served
the bay-area for 70 years and now has more than 12,000 members. A large
segment CCFCU membership are from labor unions, including teachers,
nurses, BART and ALWU.