On December 28th, the Monday after Christmas, the 85-year, $35 million Post Office Credit Union (POCU) in Madison may come to an end. The savings and loans of its 3,196 members and their abundant reserves (22% net worth) will be transferred in due course to the $26 billion PenFed Credit Union in Virginia. Their new financial “partner” is 850 miles distant and 742 times larger. They would join an already existing membership of over 2 million.
Why should credit unions care? After all UPS, Federal Express, DHL and even Amazon can fill the needs if the local Post Office itself were to close. Same with financial options–aren’t there plenty?
Member-owned cooperatives fill a special niche in every community. The members pool their savings to provide loans to members and businesses with local control and leadership. Founded during the Depression, POCU serves member needs with services guided by familiarity and circumstance. Especially in a pandemic.
It’s Madison, Not Bedford Falls
But alas, Madison is not the Bedford Falls of the Christmas film It’s A Wonderful Life. No Clarence, or guardian angel, has appeared to “ring a bell” asking for a public hearing. Or to demonstrate what the future for members and the community will be without POCU.
And there is no George Bailey to stand against Potter’s acquisitiveness. For the CEO of POCU will choose between receiving a five-year $650,000 sinecure or immediate cash severance of $437,000 while turning over his leadership responsibility to another firm via merger.
Will there Be a Rerun?
Three generations of members have supported POCU to be always present for them. But no rerun of It’s A Wonderful Life may happen next year.
Unless there is an unexpected intervention. Do I hear a bell ringing signaling another angel’s presence? A real life Clarence to help members see life without POCU?
Such an event would fulfill the spirit of this timeless movie. Except it would be a real-world “Madison miracle” this Christmas time.