The United Northwest Federal Credit Union was formed in July of 1948 by several area farmers of Norton and Lenora, Iowa. Initially, annual meetings were held at a local co-op institution in Norton, with only 27 members present at the initial meeting. However, in the summer of 1948 the membership increased to over one hundred. The union was reorganized in November of that year and remained the same organization throughout its existence in Iowa.
The United Northwest Federal Credit Union possessed a simple design. Each member had a direct stake in the success of the credit union. All were compensated accordingly, with the profits shared between the various levels of membership. There were no complicated share owning structures; all the same, however, each credit union paid close attention to what was needed to ensure success for the entire credit union and the individuals who participated.
One of the primary reasons the United Northwest Federal Credit Union experienced growth was the growth of agricultural activity in the northwest. corn and wheat were the major crops grown in the region. The union also maintained strong relations with various large-scale manufacturers in the area, such as AT & T, Coca Cola, Nike, and Union Carbide. This allowed for more members than ever to be paid higher wages.
The union was careful to remain politically neutral during the years it was active in the northwest. In 1950, following the resignation of President Harry Truman, the union endorsed Mr. Dean Wilson for president. During the election, Wilson carried the largest number of votes. Two years later, however, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that they would investigate the matter, which prompted Wilson to drop out of the race. He subsequently filed an appeal with the U.S. Congress, which led to an investigation by the U.S. Senate.
The investigation discovered discrepancies involving Wilson’s eligibility for federal employee benefits. According to the information gained from the investigation, Wilson had falsified a resume in order to get himself hired. The investigation also found that Wilson had used forged letters and other items to try and get loans for his personal use. One of the most telling pieces of information was the fact that the credit union’s northeast regional president had approved Wilson’s application. The northeast region, including the City of Seattle, is home to one of the largest concentrations of minorities in the country.
In addition to Wilson’s fraudulent application, the investigation discovered that there were in fact several other cases throughout the union where fraud had occurred. Most notably, one union member had falsified information about his income and had made his real income available to the union. Another had opened a bank account using the name of a deceased individual. One regional union vice president was actually paid to pose as a deceased person on loan applications.
It is the hope of the United Northwest Federal Credit Union that the charges levied against Wilson will be enough to discourage similar fraud in the future. If not, the union may have to file criminal charges against the officer in question. Federal officials declined to comment on the specifics of the case, citing the fact that it is an ongoing investigation. An employee’s right to due process and an attorney’s right to fair trial are also violated if an employee is falsely accused of union crimes. Charges of this nature should only come after all avenues of investigation have been pursued.
What does this mean for employees of the United northwest Federal Credit Union? For one thing, you should always double check a union agent’s credentials. There are plenty of consumer advocacy groups like Consumer Action and the National Foundation for Credit Counseling that can help with this. It is also important that you check the information provided by any organization that you’re thinking of going to with a complaint. Many times there are multiple organizations that are involved in investigating union fraud.