Marriott Workers Struggle to Pay Bills, and Credit Union Fees

Public records show that several current and former executives have obtained large mortgages from the credit union. They include Don Cleary, the Canada president for Marriott International, who received a $1 million mortgage in December 2016; William McGowan, a longtime design and project manager ($875,000 in December 2014); Michael Rhoads, senior director of international accounting ($825,000 in November 2016); and Norman Jenkins, a former senior vice president ($765,000 in February 2017).

The most common rate that the Marriott credit union reported for mortgages in the fourth quarter of last year was 3.38 percent, below the market average at the time, according to data collected by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Rank-and-file workers often can’t obtain loans with such low rates, however, widening the disparities. In contrast to the car loans below 2.5 percent that the Marriott credit union currently advertises for those with sterling credit, workers with only fair credit — a FICO score in the low 600s — can pay more than 8 percent. Those with poor credit can pay more than 12 percent if they can get a loan at all. And the credit union approves few mortgages, period.

“The proper comparison isn’t whether or not an hourly associate has access to the same loans or interest rates as a company executive,” said Mr. Newton, the chief executive. “Rather, it’s whether the credit union offers value to the members, based on their individual credit profile, versus what they could have received at other financial institutions.”

Mr. Newton said the loans the credit union does offer to low-paid workers, like the mini-loan, are a more affordable option than products they could obtain elsewhere, such as payday loans.

Credit unions are legally separate from the companies whose employees they serve. But there is often significant overlap between managers of the two organizations.

At the Marriott credit union, five board members are Marriott employees with “vice president” in their title; three are employees with “director” in their title. The only “on property” employee on the board is the general manager of the Bethesda Suites Marriott in Maryland.