May sees strength in ‘one’ voice

CUNA chairman urges CUs to speak with one, united voice on the issues.

March 2, 2011

“Your involvement in our political advocacy efforts will be essential,” CUNA Chairman Harriet May told a General Session audience Tuesday.

May referenced the song “One” by Three Dog Night, who rocked the GAC on Sunday. “It’s a good song” but she differs on the line that says “one is the loneliest number.” When it comes to credit unions at the GAC, she thinks about “one” in a different way.

“When I look out at all of you in this large audience, a different phrase comes to mind,” said May, president/CEO, GECU, El Paso, Texas. “It’s the phrase on the Great Seal of the United States: E Pluribus Unum—“Out of many, one.”

At the GAC, she said, this is what we are: Credit unions from every state and hundreds of communities across the nation, united by a common purpose, shared values, a rich history, and a unique, member-driven philosophy—or, “out of many, one.”

And on Capitol Hill, “one isn’t the loneliest number, it’s the strongest number,” she said. “When we are united—speak with one, common voice on the issues—we are at our maximum strength. Conversely, when we splinter and become divided, we become weaker, politically.”

Getting legislation through Congress today will be challenging, she said. Congress itself is divided, and “the last thing we want to do is to make our task even harder by splintering our message and failing to present a united front.”

May urged credit unions to take a broader view on the issues, such as interchange or member business lending, when talking with legislators. “It will make those who do need additional authorities stronger. And that, in turn, makes the movement stronger.”