By Steve Post, Jerry Diamond, Kimberly Cheney, Wally Farnum, and Bob Shattuck Collectively, the founders of Calling All Members have over 220 years as members of the VSECU, with over 75 of those years in leadership positions. To see the VSECU CEO take our 75-year-old cooperative from strong to gone in just nine years is not visionary leadership, it is failed leadership. This merger is not in the best interest of current VSECU members or of Vermonters. The VSECU is a cooperative that needs to refocus on member service and member satisfaction. Now that voting has begun, it is imperative that members vote. The merger, an acquisition really, represents the termination of our charter, and it cannot be undone. Members and employees will lose all recourse once it happens. In addition to giving up our independence, we will turn control of over $100 million of our collective earnings and acquired assets to people who had nothing to do with the creation of that capital. We also now know that the continuing credit union’s Field of Membership will NOT be based on geography or residency. It will be numerous employer groups and organizations located in Vermont, Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Michigan, and even groups headquartered in San Diego and San Francisco, California.If the proposed VSECU merger is approved, our statewide cooperative built by Vermonters, for Vermonters will be gone — forever. For those reasons and more, we think a NO vote on the merger is the right vote. Yet those members still weighing whether to vote NO deserve to know that we believe VSECU has a bright future as an independent, innovative cooperative. Bigger is not always better — Better is Better — and if we are successful defeating this merger, Calling All Members has many ideas on how to make VSECU a stronger, better part of the Vermont community. First, we will encourage new leadership to restore the vision of VSECU being a credit union built by Vermonters for Vermonters. Our sights will remain on Vermont, not New England and beyond. Second, we will work to identify members to be elected to the board of directors who are dedicated to keeping VSECU independent. We will seek candidates whose core allegiance is to the credit union and its members and who have a history with VSECU, its products, its members, its democratic traditions. Further, we will push for a bylaw change that requires geographic distribution of board members. Third, we will work to better connect this organization with representatives of its founding group — active and retired state employees. The VSECU has always been a statewide credit union because state employees have always been state wide. We believe reconnecting with our roots around the state will ground us and give us the strength to thrive for another 75 years. Fourth, we will work to make VSECU more frugal and more member-focused. Over the past nine years, the operating-expense-to-asset ratio has gone up, not down as it should have. Over the same nine years the VSECU ‘total return to member’ has gone down, not up, as it should have. Fifth, we will work to identify ways to partner with other credit unions to achieve economies of scale while preserving each institution’s unique identity and culture. Sixth, we will work to keep the VSECU a state-chartered credit union, not a federal credit union. Seventh, we will work to preserve the name Vermont State Employees Credit Union and the VSECU acronym and logo. Yes, all Vermonters are welcome to join now but the original name can and should live in appreciation of those who forged the way. And yes, this is a shift in thinking, having finally come to understand that the name is a badge. Let’s keep the Vermont State Employees Credit Union alive and serving all Vermonters. With enough member support we can restore the VSECU vision that has been abandoned. But first, we must defeat the merger proposal. Vote No when your ballot arrives, then stay tuned to CallingAllMembers.org. Thanks for your support.