Boeing Employees' Credit Union is allowing striking Machinists to postpone certain loan payments for as long as the strike lasts. Customers so far have...

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Boeing Employees’ Credit Union is allowing striking Machinists to postpone certain loan payments for as long as the strike lasts.

Customers so far have deferred payments on more than 2,600 car, boat, home-equity and other loans, said BECU spokesman Todd Pietzsch. They cannot defer payments on first mortgages, and credit-card payments are handled on a case-by-case basis.

Boeing Machinists, who hit the picket lines two weeks ago, are also eligible for special “income-interruption” loans requiring no income verification and no payments for 90 days. Those who have car loans elsewhere can refinance with BECU and postpone their first payment for 90 days.

BECU has 410,000 customers, at least 80 percent of whom are Boeing employees, retirees or family members. Pietzsch figures 90 percent to 95 percent of the firm’s 16,500 Puget Sound-area Machinists are customers.

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Like other credit unions, BECU often works out temporary arrangements with customers who are laid off, on strike or otherwise having trouble making payments, Pietzsch said.

The credit union has approved about 93 percent of recent requests for deferrals, he said. Some workers are turned down because they were behind on payments before the strike began.

BECU also is offering special loans and payment deferrals to its 1,300 members who live in the Gulf Coast states most affected by Hurricane Katrina.

More than 40 Washington-based credit unions have members in that part of the country, said Jamie Chase, spokeswoman for the Washington Credit Union League. The credit unions are considering postponing and forgiving payments, and perhaps entire loan amounts, for customers affected by the hurricane.

Melissa Allison: 206-464-3312 or mallison@seattletimes.com