Your Voice, Your Choice
OPEIU Local 39
September 2016
Why Unions Matter
Union Fish

No question, this has been a hard summer, especially for the workers at CUNA Mutual group. Facing a sudden "crisis" declared by CEO Bob Trunzo, there has already been numerous layoffs with more to come.

And don't get me started on the election.

But, it is times like these that really show just how much keeping our Union strong, and pushing for strong Unions around the state and the country, is so important. While it is the prerogative of Employers to manage their businesses -- including outsourcing, transferring, and eliminating work -- the Union has negotiated terms for bargaining unit Members to limit the disruptions caused by management decisions and help those affected.

In addition, the very presence of Unions brings ALL wages up, according to a new report by EPI. All that's ahead.
Update at CMFG
Layoffs at CMFG and help for Bargaining Unit Members

These have been some hard weeks at CUNA Mutual Group. More layoffs were announced in August, with people losing those jobs just before September. If CEO Bob Trunzo's vision of our "great promise" and "limitless opportunity" included demoralized employees, devastated productivity, and the exodus of many of those he called our "greatest asset," why then, CMFG is well on its way.

So far there have been 19 represented people laid off (this does not count the additional layoffs in Waverly, which is not part of our Union). Not all of those people are gone. Out of the first six: one layoff was rescinded, one member bumped a temporary employee, two members took open positions, and two members took severance. Of those recently notified, the Union has reached out to ALL of them and are working with each member to help chart this most difficult of courses.

It's important to note here, in the strongest possible terms, it is CUNA Mutual management that makes the decisions to lay people off. The best work that the Union has done for this situation, is what is done at contract time: we've made it very expensive to lay people off and we've made it so that those members have as soft a landing as possible.

Your Union leadership is closely monitoring the Company and its actions as they make their business decisions and potentially lay off members. Any violations to our contract by CMFG will be grieved, arbitrated, and if necessary, other legal actions will be taken by the Union.

But what else can be done?

The Union has -- and will continue to -- work with every member affected by management's decision to lay them off. There are options:

  • Bumping. Most members don't want to continue working at another member's expense. That is both generous and kind. However, bumping is an option and there are temporary positions that are subject to bumping. If you are close to retirement or Magic 85, consider bumping a temp.
  • Find a volunteer. For all of those who don't want to leave, there are many who no longer want to stay. Working under the conditions that management has forced on the company has put many people in the mind to leave. The volunteer MUST be in the same job title as the person laid off.
  • Take the severance. The contract makes for as soft a landing as possible. Make them pay you to leave. Two weeks for every year of service is not inconsequential.

These are hard times for members at CMFG.  Please educate yourself on your rights under the contract and feel free to contact a Union Steward with any questions regarding your rights and benefits. Don't wait for a layoff notice. If you have questions, contact any of our Union Stewards or the Chief Steward.

Union Decline Brings all Wages Down

We've seen it here in Wisconsin. With Act 10 and then the so-called "right to work" laws, the number of people in active Unions has dropped. Along with that drop in membership has come a drop in pay. Wisconsin median household income is nearly $800 below the national average and it has "fallen consistently since the passage of the anti-union law in 2011."

We've been able to see in a compressed time frame what has been going on across the country over the last 40 years. The decline in Union membership since 1979 has brought all wages -- even the wages of non-Union workers -- down. The Economic Policy Institute report makes the contention that "private-sector union decline since the late 1970s has contributed to substantial wage losses among workers who do not belong to a union." 


So what? you ask. We have a Union! This is true, but Union members are vastly outnumbered, not only by non-union workers, but by people who think that Unions are not only unnecessary, but actually bad. The push for the so-called "right to work" legislation is based on the idea that Unions hurt workers and so shouldn't be a condition for employment. 

But EPI identifies a number of ways in which a strong Union environment helps even those who are not in Unions:

  • The threat of Unionization. Many companies such as Eastman Kodak back in the day and many fast food restaurants more recently, suddenly find more money and provide better conditions for workers when they begin to push for unionization.
  • When Union members get raises, that often means that non-Union workers get raises too, just so that those other companies don't lose employees to the Union shops.
  • Unions create a broader "moral economy" that "help institute norms of fairness regarding pay, benefits, and worker treatment. These norms can extend beyond the unionized core of the workforce, affecting nonunion workers whose employers follow the standards that unions help establish."

If you find yourself in a discussion with a non-Union worker, be sure to tell them "You're Welcome" because our efforts to keep OPEIU Local 39 strong mean that those other workers get to benefit from what we do every day.

Other News

Dues Increase

At the 2016 OPEIU International Convention members voted to increase dues by $3.00 for the 2016-2018 period. Effective October 1, 2016 OPEIU Local 39 members will receive a $3.00 dues increase. For a full-time, 40 hour employee, it is a .017cent an hour increase. There will be no international dues increases for 2017 and 2018.

Negotiations to Begin at CUNA Inc

Contract negotiations are beginning at CUNA Inc. All Members of the CUNA Inc. bargaining unit are encouraged to get involved. Health Care will be a top priority. What other issues are on your mind? Be sure to reach out to a Steward or contact Debi in the Union Office.

Membership meetings are held the third Wednesday of the second month of the quarter, at 5:30 PM in the Union Office.

November 16, 2016
February 15th, 2017
May 18th, 2017
August 17th, 2017

This is your Union. Your participation gives us the strength to face the continued opposition of both companies and politicians.
Unions = Gym Membership
Know Your Weingarten Rights!
The US Supreme Court has ruled that the National Labor Relations Act gives workers the right to request union representation during investigatory interviews by supervisors, security personal, and other managerial staff.  These are called Weingarten Rights.
An investigatory interview occurs if 1) management questions you to obtain information; and 2) you have reasonable apprehension that your answers could be used as a basis for discipline or other adverse action.
You must ask for union representation either before or during an investigatory interview.  Management does not have to remind you of this right.  If your request is refused and Management continues asking questions, you may refuse to answer.  Your employer is guilty of an unfair labor practice and charges may be filed.  If you are questioned in a situation where Weingarten may apply, read or present this statement:

"If this discussion could in any way lead to my being disciplined or terminated, or affect my personal working conditions, I respectfully request that my union representative, officer, or steward be present at this meeting. Until my representative arrives, I choose not to participate in this discussion."
Local 39 Union Offices
701 Watson Ave
Ste 102
Madison WI 53713