What got me wondering about this question was a November 4th letter on Cooperative Operating Philosophy from the Farm Credit Administration (FCA), the regulator of the Farm Credit System (FCS), to Farm Credit institutions, financial cooperatives serving agriculture.
The letter encouraged Farm Credit institutions to engage their members as owners.
"Members need to know and understand their rights and benefits of ownership and be informed of the many ways they can exercise those rights and participate in the control of their institution."
While not mandating, the FCA wrote that FCS institutions could engage their members by:
1) posting their bylaws on their website;
2) ensuring that members petition rights are understood and fully supported; and
3) informing members how they may bring matters to the attention of the board or the membership as a whole.
I then went to several credit union websites including Navy FCU, State Employees CU, Altura CU, and Safe CU. I could not find their bylaws or any information on petition rights.
If management is not engaging members to participate in the control of their credit unions or providing them with the necessary information to participate in their institutions, then there may be a principal-agent problem.