A CREDIT UNION IS BORN (1954 – 1955)
The history of Portland Local 8 Federal Credit Union is nearly as long as the history for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union itself. Beginning in February of 1954, only 17 years after the formation of the ILWU, seven members of ILWU Local 8, led by Homer D. MacDonald, drafted the original charter for Portland Local 8 Federal Credit Union. This wasn’t the only name considered for the credit union. Other options included in the vote were I.L.W.U. #8, Portland Consumers’ Federal Credit Union, and Portland Longshore Credit Union.
One month later, on March 18th, 1954, the charter was ratified and Portland Local 8 Federal Credit Union was officially formed. During this process eighteen Local 8 members were elected to three committees and the Board of Directors. The Board of Directors, Supervisory Committee, Credit Committee, and Educational Committee were first chaired by Ray Jagelski, Richard J. Sutton, Homer D. MacDonald, and Charles Yevtich, respectively.
Shortly after the formation of the credit union the first report by Treasurer Don Jensen was made. After two weeks of operation the credit union had amassed 213 members and assets totaling over $1,500. By the end of 1954, Portland Local 8 Federal Credit Union had exploded in growth, ballooning to 780 members with nearly $69,000 in assets; over half a million dollars in today’s money.
The explosion in growth during those first nine months proved that the credit union was providing a valuable service to Local 8 members despite it only offering three services: savings, unsecured loans, and check cashing. Speaking of loans, the credit union also made almost 500 loans to members, helping them make purchases and cover unexpected financial impacts. For many Local 8 members this was the first time such services were readily available to them.
By the end of 1955, two short years since the start of the credit union, Portland Local 8 Federal Credit Union served over 900 members, had assets totaling over $150,000, had made over 1000 loans to members, and had added new services like share secured loans and chattel mortgage loans. This wasn’t the end of growth for the credit union though. The next 35 years saw substantial growth in both membership and services in addition to other changes that have helped to make Portland Local 8 Federal Credit Union what it is today.
STEADY AS A ROCK (1956 – 1991)
After the blistering pace set in the early life of the credit union, the 35 years between 1956 and 1991 were relatively uneventful. That’s not to say that these years were unimportant, quite the contrary. During this time the credit union steadily grew in members and total assets while also maturing as a financial organization.
A significant change did take place in 1963 when members of I.L.W.U. Locals 40 & 92 were allowed membership to the credit union. These additions expanded the possible membership for the credit union by serving virtually every longshoreman in Portland, Oregon. Most importantly, it allowed for greater growth in the future.
By the 1980s the credit union had become a well-established institution on the Portland waterfront. In 1983 an era ended when the original Chairman of the Board of Directors for 26 years, Ray Jagelski, retired from office and a new Chairman, Ed Reynolds, was elected.
As the credit union entered the 1990s the results of 35 years of steady growth were apparent. With over 1600 members and $10 million in assets, Portland Local 8 Federal Credit Union had nearly doubled its membership and its assets had grown over 6500%. However, the relative stability of the last three decades was about to disappear as big changes for the credit union were on the horizon.
THE MODERN ERA (1992 – 2014)
The 1990s started off well when checking accounts, a much requested service, were introduced. Prior to 1992 the credit union only offered various forms of savings accounts. With the introduction of checking accounts members could more conveniently use their hard-earned money. This also made Portland Local 8 Federal Credit Union nearly a one-stop-shop for the average members’ banking needs.
The next year, 1993, marked another changing of the guard as longtime Chairman of the Board of Directors, Ed Reynolds, retired and was replaced by Jerry Bitz. Another new figure emerged in 1994 when the credit union hired Gayla Dreith as a teller. Needless to say, she didn’t stay in that position for long.
Changes kept on coming when in 1995 the credit union further expanded its services to include VISA credit cards. The next year contained an even bigger change for the employees of the credit union when Portland Local 8 Federal Credit Union employees unionized with OPEIU Local 11. This unionization not only made the credit union one of the few in the Northwest to be unionized, but it also created a tighter bond between Local 8 members and their credit union. Members could now rest assured that they were supporting fellow union brothers and sisters when they used Portland Local 8 Federal Credit Union as their primary financial institution.
Five years after her hire in 1999, Gayla Dreith was made CEO of the credit union and she remains in that position to this day. Gayla was a natural fit for this position as her previous experience as a Loan Officer for Washington Mutual and Regional VP for Capital Savings Bank gave her ample experience with running all aspects of a financial institution. Under her watch as CEO the credit union flourished with increased membership, larger assets, and more member services.
The first of the advancements under Gayla Dreith came in 2004 when the credit union had the grand opening for its new building. Moving from a tiny office inside the hiring hall to brand new building attached to the hall, the credit union finally had the facility it needed to grow and prosper. The evidence of that came during the same year when the credit union launched its brand new website and online banking system.
By 2005 the credit union had gained three new services: IRAs, an ATM, and e-statements. An important change within the Board of Directors also took place when a new Chairman, Rod O’Hearn, was elected. Like Gayla, Rod continues as Chairman today.
For the next several years the credit union continued its steady growth in both members and total assets. By the end of 2009 the credit union had over 2100 members and had reached $30 million in total assets.
The end of 2011 and the beginning of 2012 saw many changes to the credit union. The biggest impact came from the merger between Portland Local 8 Federal Credit Union and NPT Employees Federal Credit Union. This merger increased the membership and total assets for the credit union, helping it continue its strong growth. By the end of 2011 the credit union had assets totaling approximately $33 million dollars and well over 2500 members. Due to this increase in membership and a renewed dedication to member service the credit union also hired several new employees throughout 2011 and 2012.
Also in 2012 a new live debit card system was introduced which will enable our members to have easier access to their funds. A new mobile banking app was created to provide additional convenient services to our members which will allow them to transfer between accounts, make payments, and view account history all from their mobile device.
Throughout 2013 the Credit Union continued to grow it membership as well as assets. By the end of 2013 the credit union had assets over $33 million dollars and over 2600 members.
At the beginning of 2014 many new products and services were made available to our members such as the union gold checking account, identity theft protection, discounted car fax reports, and we began reporting to all three credit bureaus.
That brings us to present day, where the credit union is growing and thriving. While no one can say for sure what will happen next, it’s safe to say that the future looks bright. Our members can rest assured that Portland Local 8 Federal Credit Union will continue to provide them with world-class financial service with a family atmosphere that could only be provided by “union members and their families united to achieve financial success.”