CMG United is the CUNA Mutual Group (CMG or CMFG) unit of OPEIU Local 39. CMFG will soon be rebranding to TruStage and so our name will be changing soon as well. Since early February 2022, we have been negotiating our next collective bargaining agreement with CMFG/TruStage management. Our existing contract expired on March 31, 2022 and we have been working without a contract since then.
Current Status - May 15, 2023
We are beyond disappointed to receive news from CMFG management that they have canceled tonight’s mediation session. Tonight’s mediation was scheduled at the Employer’s request when we met on May 10th, which our Union readily accepted.
The Employer’s cause for cancelling was that they needed more time to "digest" our proposal so they could offer their own proposal in return. CMFG had five days to work on a counterproposal for our members. This is why our bargaining team announced on Friday that unless we have real progress on a deal this week, we will go ahead with an unfair labor practices strike. There is no excuse for being unprepared to offer a proposal, especially only four days before our strike deadline of May 19th. Our Employer's actions today reinforce why we have taken serious strike preparations.
Our team will still be available to meet the Employer for mediation on Tuesday evening, May 16th, and Wednesday evening, May 17th. We expect them to come prepared and without excuses.
To keep members updated, we have adjusted our plans for membership updates. We have canceled the short meeting we planned for tonight during mediation to provide members an update, and scheduled a new meeting to occur Wednesday, during the lunch hour, to provide a comprehensive update to members about the Employer/Union proposals if we receive something on Tuesday evening from CMFG.
OPEIU Local 39 has been representing employees at CUNA Mutual Group/TruStage for more than 80 years. Never once in those years have we found it necessary for us to strike. Yet, we have never seen management stoop to the levels they have to avoid bargaining in good faith, either. Over the past several months, we've been forced to file numerous unfair labor practice charges against CUNA Mutual Group/TruStage for violating federal labor law, including the unjustified retaliatory firing of our chief steward, Joe Evica. After waiting months for CMFG/TruStage to stop breaking the law and return to the bargaining table, on April 19, 2023, we took the unprecedented step of calling for a strike authorization vote.
The result was loud and clear. 87% of our members turned out for the vote and 92% voted to approve a strike authorization.
Early in negotiations, our members indicated their top five priorities for these negotiations. In no particular order, they are: fair compensation, job security, remote work, retirement security, and quality and affordable health care.
The following is an example showing the change in one employee's salary under each side's current proposed salary changes, including the effects of inflation, both recently and estimated at 2% for the future. Under CMFG's/TruStage's proposed changes, we would effectively take a pay cut and wouldn't even earn a salary that is effectively equivalent to what we made in 2001 until after 2025.
In fact, if you add up the total of the losses that CMFG's/TruStage's proposed changes would inflict on us and, use a raise of 3% and inflation of 2% to extend the effect beyond the term of the proposed contract, we wouldn't even break even until 2030.
Meanwhile, while we have gone without a raise for more than two years during the worst inflation in well over 40 years, CMFG/TruStage is making record profits year over year. In the three years prior to our negotiations, they made over $1 billion, yet they apparently expect us to sacrifice as if our company was losing money.
Job Security - Outsourcing and Contractor Usage
In the early 2000's, CUNA Mutual Group/TruStage employed nearly 1,700 union members. Since then, they have been on a crusade to outsource and contract out our jobs. After nearly two decades of chipping away at membership, enough is enough. Jobs are outsourced for a few years, only to return to the company, who then hides those positions from the union and fills them with non-union employees. Contractors, are brought on to help with short-term projects or to fill empty positions when no suitable candidate can be found, both of which are contractually limited to 1 year. Yet there are many contractors who have been at CMFG/TruStage for more than 5 years and several that have been here longer than 10 years.
We need job security to feel confident in our future and to provide long-term, stable employment that grows and enriches our communities.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, CUNA Mutual Group/TruStage, like many other companies, switched almost overnight to a remote work environment. Since then, we've proven year over year that the great remote work experiment was a resounding success, with year over year record breaking profits. As the pandemic continued, some employees moved out of state and numerous new employees were hired for remote work all over the country.
Management is now trying to enshrine the ability to recall workers back to the office with little to no notice into our contract, while we want to make sure that no one is forced to choose between uprooting their family or losing their job on the whim of their manager. We've proven remote work is effective and there's no reason to require remote workers to return to the office.
For decades, CUNA Mutual Group/TruStage has been in the business of administering pension plans for credit unions and other companies across the country. Yet, during every contract negotiations for the past 10-20 years, they have attempted to eliminate our pension in one way or another. This time, CMFG/TruStage wants to eliminate it for newly hired employees, cutting the company's contribution to our retirement in half while offering nothing to offset this loss and thus forcing employees to delay retirement by many years. When asked how much money such a cut would save them, management indicated that it would save the company a combined total of $189,000 over 3 years for the entire union.
For such an important benefit that costs CMFG/TruStage so little, there's no conscionable reason to make a cut like this.
Quality and Affordable Healthcare
CUNA Mutual Group/TruStage offers two types of health insurance to us, a high quality, low out-of-pocket HMO for those in and around Dane County and several CDHP plans with low cost but extremely high deductibles for those who live outside the immediate area. Consistently, CMFG/TruStage attempts to eliminate the HMO plan due to it's higher premium, for both employees and the company, but never offers anything close to a comparable replacement. The CDHP plans they offer are are prohibitively expensive (but only to the employee) due to their high deductibles, forcing many employees with these plans to forego important procedures or even routine care.
For those outside the Dane County area, they have no choice in this matter. It's either select a CDHP plan or go without insurance as the HMO is strictly local. With the rise in remote work in the past few years, this problem will only get worse. Everyone deserves quality healthcare that they can afford to use.