CUNA Mutual Fires Kitchen Over UnionBreach
MADISON, Wis. - (08/03/04) -- CUNA Mutual Group said Monday itspresident and CEO Michael Kitchen agreed to resign upon the requestof the Board after Kitchen tried to personally intervene in thecredit union insurer's ongoing labor dispute in possible violationof federal labor laws. Kitchen's firing came after he acknowledgedto the Board that he offered to give money to a union employee tohire a lawyer to explore options to solve the current impasse withthe union, the Office and Professional Employees International,Local 39, which included the possible separation of professionalemployees from the union. Even though the offer of financialassistance was declined, such behind-the-scenes intervention bymembers of senior management in an ongoing labor dispute areexpressly prohibited by the National Labor Relations Act. "CUNAMutual Group's employees have the right to make their own decisionsconcerning bargaining and union issues, even when differentemployee groups may not agree," said Loretta Burd, chairman of theCUNA Mutual Board, who accepted Kitchen's resignation. CUNA Mutualsaid its current chief financial officer, Jeffrey Holley, willserve as acting president and CEO until a successor for Kitchen ishired. Kitchen headed CUNA Mutual for nine years, building it to aubiquitous provider of services to credit unions and more thandoubling the company's assets to $12 billion, from $5billion.