Local credit unions allowed federal workers affected by shutdown to skip loan payments
FRESNO – When the story of this shutdown is recorded in history, it will talk of heroic prison guards who put their life in harm’s way without pay, services that went undelivered to populations who need it the most, and the ripple effect that led to layoffs at private sector contractors. It probably won’t remember the local credit unions that provided financial assistance and support to all of those mentioned above.
In a released statement, Educational Employees Credit Union (EECU) said both state-chartered and federally sanctioned credit unions in the San Joaquin Valley offered options to federal employees whose jobs were indefinitely furloughed to skip loan payments or take out zero percent interest loans to make ends meet during the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.
“The uncertainty as to when the shutdown will end created stress and hardship for many credit union members struggling to pay their bills and provide for their families,” said Elizabeth Dooley, EECU president/CEO said in a released statement.
In additional to EECU, other credit unions offering assistance to federal employee members are Central Valley Firefighters Credit Union, Kings Federal Credit Union, Merced School Employees Federal Credit Union, Noble Credit Union, San Joaquin Power Employees Credit Union, Tulare County Federal Credit Union, United Local Credit Union, and Valley First Credit Union.
About 800,000 federal workers did not receive a paycheck between Dec. 22 when the government was shutdown and Jan. 25 when it reopened. The over month-long shutdown surpassed the previous mark for the longest shutdown of 21 days in 1995-1996. If the shutdown were to continue and additional assistance was needed, EECU said credit unions were prepared to discuss other options with their members.
Unlike banks, credit unions are non-profit institutions where profits are typically returned to members in the form of reduced fees, higher savings rates and lower interest rates instead of appeasing investors. Credit unions also pride themselves on customer service as they are owned and controlled by account holders, who are also called depositors or members. Each account holder — regardless of how much money he has in his accounts — gets a vote on board members. All federal and most state credit unions are ensured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), which is backed by the federal government.
In keeping with the credit union philosophy of “people helping people,” EECU and other credit unions have also offered special financial assistance packages to members who were affected by floods, hurricanes and the recent devastating California wildfires.