As reg­u­lar read­ers know, we at NPI have been long­time cham­pi­ons of mem­ber-owned cred­it unions, par­tic­u­lar­ly since the eco­nom­ic col­lapse of Sep­tem­ber 2008 and the sub­se­quent bank bailout. NPI’s staff and board belong indi­vid­u­al­ly to dif­fer­ent cred­it unions, and NPI itself is a cred­it union member.

NPI became part of Amer­i­ca’s cred­it union move­ment well before the fail­ure of Lehman Broth­ers, the sale of Mer­rill Lynch, the seizure of WaMu, the pas­sage of the bank bailout, or the Wall Street bonus­es flap. We did so because we believe in walk­ing our talk. It’s part of our over­ar­ch­ing phi­los­o­phy. To us, pro­gres­sivism isn’t just about polit­i­cal action; it’s about eco­nom­ic action and social action as well.

By mov­ing our mon­ey from banks to cred­it unions, we can all live more pro­gres­sive­ly. Cred­it unions are not-for-prof­it finan­cial coop­er­a­tives that exist to serve their mem­bers. They are run by vol­un­teer board of direc­tors. Since there are no out­side stock­hold­ers to pay, all prof­its can be returned to mem­bers in the form of low­er fees, bet­ter rates, and supe­ri­or service.

It’s heart­en­ing to see so many oth­er peo­ple final­ly choos­ing to break up with their banks and make the switch. Today, an event was held across the Unit­ed States called Bank Trans­fer Day, in which groups of peo­ple joined togeth­er to close their back accounts and move their mon­ey to cred­it unions.

By all accounts, Bank Trans­fer Day was a success.

BECU, Wash­ing­ton’s largest cred­it union, report­ed that six hun­dred and fifty nine peo­ple opened accounts at its finan­cial cen­ters today — a new record for a Sat­ur­day. BECU mem­ber­ship, which is open to all Wash­ing­to­ni­ans, has been grow­ing rapid­ly late­ly, with three straight months of record signups.

Spe­cif­ic Bank Trans­fer Day events were held in all of the Pacif­ic North­west­’s major cities. Most of those leav­ing banks — includ­ing a num­ber of Occu­py pro­test­ers — were break­ing up with Chase or Bank of Amer­i­ca in particular.

Chase and Bank of Amer­i­ca, along with Wells Far­go and U.S. Bank, held more than half of bank deposits in Wash­ing­ton alone as of the end of June of this year. The state’s cred­it unions, com­bined, held approx­i­mate­ly twen­ty per­cent of the total share of deposit at the same juncture.

Here’s a roundup of sto­ries about Bank Trans­fer Day that may be of interest:

We at NPI extend our con­grat­u­la­tions to every­one who broke up with a big, greedy Wall Street bank today. Those who’ve switched are about to dis­cov­er the joy of belong­ing to a mem­ber owned cred­it union.

Remem­ber, all the major Wall Street banks — Wells Far­go, Bank of Amer­i­ca, JPMor­gan Chase, and U.S. Bank — were donors to Tim Eyman’s I‑1053 last year, which gives Repub­li­can state leg­is­la­tors uncon­sti­tu­tion­al veto pow­er over state bud­gets. No pro­gres­sive should be doing busi­ness with a Wall Street bank, period.

If you need help mak­ing the switch your­self, check out, or the Pro­gres­sive Change Cam­paign Com­mit­tee’s Banx­o­dus site.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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6 replies on “A day of action: Progressives across the country use Bank Transfer Day to go bankless”

  1. Do you have a prob­lem with small com­mu­ni­ty banks? I switched to one of those from a Wall St pigbank.

    1. Not at all. We our­selves like belong­ing to a cred­it union (because under the cred­it union mod­el, the mem­bers are the own­ers) but a com­mu­ni­ty bank is a good choice too, as long as the bank you go with is com­pe­tent­ly run and sta­ble. Might also be a good idea to check their dona­tion his­to­ry to see if the bank has par­tic­i­pat­ed in any electioneering.

    1. Vis­it the PDC’s web­site. Choose the “Search the Data­base” drop­down menu, then hov­er over Advanced Search (last item). Click on Con­tri­bu­tions.

      Where it says Con­trib­u­tor Name, type the name of the bank. It’s best not to use the full name, since some­times it is record­ed dif­fer­ent­ly. So for exam­ple, if you want­ed to see all of Ster­ling Sav­ings Bank’s con­tri­bu­tions, you’d just type “Ster­ling”, and for Ban­ner Bank, just type “Ban­ner”. You’ll get some oth­er match­es mixed in, but that’s okay!

  2. Thanks.

    Oh well, one con­tri­bu­tion to the Repub­li­can Cen­tral Com­mit­tee ($1,118.81) in 2008, and one to the local Repub­li­can Par­ty ($500) also in 2008. I guess it could be worse.

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