People who are members of credit union are also owners of that credit union. That's why each member is also called a "member-owner."
Okay, that doesn't mean you can go to the credit union and use all of the supplies. It does mean that you can vote for the Board of Directors—and actually help decide what things will be like at your credit union. You usually have to be at least 18 years old to vote. (A board of directors is an organized body that controls or governs the affairs of an institution or association.)
Members have the power to guide a credit union's course of action and, if they aren't happy with what is done, the members can even replace the board of directors.
How is a credit union different from a bank?
Credit unions exist only to serve their members, but banks must make profits for their shareholders. (A shareholder is one who holds or owns a share or shares in a joint fund or property.)
Credit unions practice a one-member, one-vote philosophy for all elections. This is unlike for-profit financial institutions (such as banks) whose shareholders vote according to the number of shares of stock they own.
Let's look at this example: Pretend the shareholders are just people with different amounts of money. If one person has $1.00, that person gets one vote. If another person has $5.00, that person gets five votes. If someone else has $100.00, that person gets 100 votes! Does that seem fair?
But in a credit union, all members are equal. Each member gets one vote. It doesn't matter if one member has more money than another member. All members have an equal say in what happens at their credit union. Now, that's fair!