Workers at CUNA Mutual Group unite as the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 39 prepare to strike over unfair labor practices on May 19.
On May 16, community members hand delivered over 2,700 signed letters to CUNA Mutual’s office in Madison in response to management’s refusal to negotiate in good faith with the union and the firing of the union’s chief steward Joe Evica. Community members had the intention to hand them directly to the CEO. They were turned down at the door.
Workers say they have been attempting to negotiate with CUNA Mutual on contracts for over a year. The sides did not meet between January 12 and April 19, when a vote of union members overwhelmingly authorized a strike, union officials said. The Union filed multiple unfair labor practices charges in February and May with the National Labor Relations Board. Negotiations resumed after the strike vote.
OPEIU Local 39 is striking on five main points.
The union would like to see good paying jobs in their community and and end to outsourcing, fair compensation for work that keeps up with inflation, the reinstatement of chief steward Evica, the end of what they say are discriminatory hiring practices and offering jobs to marginalized people in their community and no cuts to health and retirement benefits.
“You know, none of these workers want to strike and are very open to reaching a fair and good faith agreement,” Sara Trongone of the Union Community Solidarity Committee said. “They’ve been working around the clock to try to get their company to meet with them and to signal that they’re very willing to create some kind of fair compromise.”
This week’s negotiations were canceled by CUNA Mutual management, according to the Union Community Solidarity Committee.
“CUNA Mutual TruStage management canceled the plan, negotiating sessions for this week,” Trongone said. “It seems like they are sort of daring the workers to strike so it seems like it’s on tomorrow.”
Barclay Pollak, a media and reputation consultant for CUNA Mutual, said that previous conversations have been productive. CUNA is attempting to find additional dates to meet later this month.
“What I can share with you is that CUNA Mutual group is committed to reaching a deal with OPEIU Local 39. We want to come to an agreement that is going to be of benefit to our employees and our organization,” Pollak said. “And that’s been something that we’ve been striving toward throughout this process.
The strike is still slated to happen tomorrow, with a demonstration and picket line at the CUNA Mutual Group Headquarters at 5910 Mineral Road between 7:00 am and 6:00 pm. There is currently no set end date for the strike.
CUNA Mutual is a funder of 365 Media Foundation, the nonprofit organization that publishes Blueprint365.