Credit Union Bylaws
Credit unions are not your traditional bank – they are financial cooperatives. They are regulated by provincial legislation in Canada and by federal and state legislation in the United States. The bylaws establish the guiding principles and legal framwork of each credit union or caisses populaires.
Purpose of Credit Union Bylaws
The bylaws specify the various aspects which affect the way in which credit unions and caisses populaires’ operate. In particular, the bylaws set out the legal framework for the internal governance of the credit union. They regulate operational, business, personal, electoral, and legal affairs.
Credit unions and caisses populaires are required by law to operate under legally valid bylaws. They are ultimately designed to protect the rights of their members and ensure that the credit union operates ethically. Members elect their board of directors, which then governs the credit union on behalf of the members.
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Content of Bylaws
Bylaws vary between credit unions, especially when specific clauses are created and updated for on an individual basis. However, there are certain aspects that apply for each credit union.
General credit unions bylaws:
- Defining key terms relevant for the credit union.
- This part sets out everything concerning membership. Their rights, who is eligible to apply, voting rights, how to apply for membership, termination, limitation of, and expulsion of members.
- Board of directors
- Qualification, duties, number and term of directors. The rules about the preferred method of election, meetings, vacancies, and removal from office.
- Board officers and management staff
- Duties and responsibilities of board executives, president, chairperson, vice-chairperson, secretary, treasurer and management staff, and officers.
- Shares and deposits
- The section discusses member shares, their value, shares issued to minors or held in trusts.
Bylaws further include sections about:
- Accounts, withdrawals, and transfers
- Borrowing and lending
- Financial management of the credit union
- Amendment of bylaws
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Election Specific Regulations
Each credit union and caisse populaire establish regulations about the elections and voting process. Bylaws clearly state the requirements of who is eligible to vote, who is eligible to stand for election and the preferred voting procedure. These can include ballot box voting, live voting, postal vote, electronic voting, online voting or proxy voting.
Who is eligible to vote?
In general, all members who own shares in a credit union have a vote in elections. Credit unions can also limit voting rights to certain members. Members might, for example, have to have a required number of shares.
Some credit unions specify regulations like the member must be in good standing in order to be allowed a vote. The bylaws also state if minors at age 16 are allowed to vote or if they need to be 18 years and over.
For elections only in one district or region, the members must have their membership registered in that voting district.