Harris Simmons, president and chief executive officer of Zions, wants to organize a credit union within the structure of Zions Bank. Is this just another effort to muddy the issues between banks and credit unions? What are the banks really trying to do?

Zions Bank, along with other banks, feel they are being hurt financially by some nonprofit organizations or credit unions. They have filed a lawsuit to restrict growth making some credit unions tell people they cannot join. They want to kick some people out of credit unions because they do not belong to a specific group. Besides the lawsuit, they want to get a nonprofit organization taxed, increasing cost. So what have they accomplished if they do all this? They have restricted growth of financial institutions. Told people where they need to do their banking. Increased the costs of operating credit unions. Those cost have to be passed on to the consumer with higher interest rates and lower dividend rates.Are banks going to lower the interest rates and increase dividend rates to make up for the changes? Simmons' statement on their Web site says, "Zions reported a record net income of $31.4 million for the last quarter of 1997." He goes on to say that "1997 was an outstanding year for Zions and its shareholders." I would guess all the credit unions in the state combined don't make a net income $31.4 million in a year. That amount of net income tells me the ones being hurt are the consumers that do business with them at high rates and fees and low dividends.

Is Zions opening a credit union because it is concerned for customers or its shareholders? Simmons' first responsibility is to take care of his stockholders. Looking at all the records they set, I say he has taken care of them very well. If they can't beat credit unions in the market, take them to court. And if that does not work, why not become one. So go ahead become a credit union; I am sure your customers will be pleased with the higher dividends and lower rates on loans. And they wonder why they couldn't get them before from a bank clearing $31.4 million every three months.

Blake Weathers

Syracuse