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Genesee Co-op Federal Credit Union workers form union

From the Rochester City Paper:

Workers at the Genesee Co-op Federal Credit Union have formed a union, a rare move for the staff of a financial institution.

The Genesee Co-op, which is located on Gregory St., is a member-owned credit union that has 12 employees and manages $35 million in assets. The vote to form a union was unanimous, and 10 of the bank’s employees are now represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA).

“Credit unions really are owned, run by, and supported by their members and their communities, and employees are part of that community too,” said Nolan Noble, a loan officer who has worked at the credit union for four years “It’s insane how much their voice is taken away from them. Employees have the right to be at the table, to have a voice and advocate for themselves.”

Noble said the move to unionize was a long-time coming due to a lack of raises, long hours, and mediocre wages. But the tipping point was the Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) loans the bank processed and originated. The federal government loans, which were administered through banks and credit unions, at 1 percent interest, and forgave loans where at least 60 percent went to payroll. 

Genesee Co-op processed about $500,000 in loans that went to businesses across the state, most of them small businesses. 

“We were working relentlessly for two months, and there were two waves of PPP loans, we’re talking non-stop work, work, work,” Noble said. “It was really hard, and it was really rewarding, because we knew if we didn’t do it, businesses weren’t going to make it.”

“...And then at the end of it, management just kind of looked at us and said, ‘Hey, you guys did that.’” 

Noble, and the staff at Genesee Co-op, thought they deserved more than a “job well done.” One of the staff members knew someone who worked with CWA, so the employees reached out.The workers subsequently approached their managers and informed them of their intent to unionize.