Earlier this month, Union Savings and Vancity Community Investment Bank teamed up to launch Solidarity Savings, a new pooled high interest savings account program designed specifically for Canadian labour unions and select affiliates. In this Q&A, Amir Bashir, Executive Director of Union Savings, explains how the program works and why it matters.
Q. First off, what is the Solidarity Savings Program?
Solidarity Savings is a pooled high interest savings account program that allows labour unions to collectively benefit from higher interest rates while making a difference on social and environmental issues important to their communities. Through Vancity Community Investment Bank (VCIB), we’re excited to be able to offer our member unions and their locals a unique financial product that’s built on the principles of organized labour. It’s a first for Union Savings and there’s really nothing else like it in Canada.
Q. What makes a Solidarity Savings account different from any other high interest savings account?
It was important to us that the product be competitive with what you’d find at any other bank, so in most ways a Solidarity Savings account looks just like the typical high interest savings account an organization would use to manage its liquid savings. Accounts are also linked to prime to provide risk protection against increasing rate environments, which is something you won’t find everywhere and is a particular benefit given today’s historic low rates.
The big difference, though, is that the Solidarity Savings program uses the power of collectivism to secure better interest rates for everyone based on the aggregate balance of all accounts. The more unions that participate, the greater the benefit. By giving unions a way to pool their savings, we’re helping make sure that locals as small as ten people can access the same competitive rates as larger organizations.
Q. Why did Union Savings team up with VCIB to create Solidarity Savings?
Union Savings co-designed the program with VCIB which is where the accounts are held. Values-alignment is key for us when building partnerships and VCIB is an ideal fit. The labour movement has historically been at the forefront of social justice efforts, and it doesn’t just end at workers’ rights. We’re leading on issues like anti-racism, economic inclusion, and climate change, and so is VCIB. As a values-driven bank, VCIB lends exclusively to projects that drive social, environmental, and economic change. For unions participating in Solidarity Savings, that means 100% of deposits will support impactful organizations and projects delivering on things like affordable housing, green building retrofits, and resilient local economies.
Q. What can a labour union expect when participating in Solidarity Savings?
In terms of the process, an organization would start by opening a Solidarity Savings Account at VCIB. This would involve having the organization’s signing authorities execute VCIB’s general onboarding agreements as well as a specific Program Agreement for Solidarity Savings. Organizations have full access to account balances on a daily basis and can move funds in and out of their account whenever they require, either through VCIB’s online banking platform or with the support of a dedicated account manager. As the collective account balance increase, so does the collective interest rate according to established pricing tiers linked to prime. To provide confidence for long-term planning, VCIB is guaranteeing this pricing for a confirmed three years.
Q. How do you think Union Savings members will respond?
The idea behind the Solidarity Savings Program is the same as everything else we do at Union Savings—leveraging strength in numbers to support all unions in accessing products and services on better terms—so I expect members will respond well and I can see a lot of unions being really proud to participate. We’ve worked hard to create a savings program that reflects both the ethic and ethics of the labour movement. I also think Solidarity Savings is uniquely suited to this current moment when we want to help our organizations get on the strongest financial footing possible and contribute to the larger goal of building back better.
Interested in learning more about the Solidarity Savings Program? Click here to download the Solidarity Savings Program Information Package, or to get started, please contact either Amir Bashir, Executive Director of Union Savings firstname.lastname@example.org or Lars Boggild, Investment Program Manager at VCIB email@example.com.
The information provided herein is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute investment, financial, legal, accounting, tax, or other advice and should not be relied upon for such purpose. Always consult a professional regarding your specific needs and circumstances.