CUNA Mutual To Cut 90 Jobs

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CUNA Mutual Group, the ubiquitous credit union insurer doing business with virtually every credit union in the country, continued its retrenchment with an announcement to cut employment by 90 more positions, the third round of lay-offs in the past four months.

The latest round of employee cutbacks, which have already begun to take effect, means the credit union insurer has reduced its staff by about 510 employees since last summer, including 415 in Madison, which includes 175 positions eliminated with last fall's sale of CMG's mortgage banking operations.

Rick Uhlmann, chief spokesperson for CUNA Mutual, said the latest cutbacks are the result of the company's ongoing review of operations initiated by new CEO Jeff Post, which is aimed at improving the cost structure of the company and ensuring that the company's involvement in providing a wide range of products and services to credit unions should be continued. "The ongoing review is going to determine what, if any, future job reductions there are going to be," said Uhlmann. "There are other areas in Madison and around the country that are being reviewed and there may be more job cuts."

"The changes we're making will help CUNA Mutual improve its efficiency and enable us to sharpen our focus on functions that are core to our credit union customers," said Post in a statement. "We're building a new CUNA Mutual that will deliver greater value to the credit union market we service-and ensure that we are viable as an organization long into the future, no matter how the credit union market continues to change."

The latest round affected about 55 employees in Madison and 35 in the company's Waverly, Iowa, offices in the cafeteria, mailroom, records and program management divisions. About half of the jobs will be eliminated with the other half taken up by third-party outsourcers.

Officials with the company's employees union, the Office and Professional Employees International Union, local 93, which a year ago ended a bitter, year-long contract dispute that focused, among other things, on outsourcing, were sanguine about the continuing job cutbacks. As part of last year's contract, the union accepted the company's right to outsource without consulting the union, in exchange for generous employee severance packages that were the equivalent of those paid management, according to John Peterson, head of the local 93.

About 125 of the lay-offs in Madison are union positions, according to Peterson. That will leave about 1,400 remaining of the surviving 2,500 Madison employees

Peterson said the ongoing lay-offs have had a negative impact on employee morale. "The morale is low," said Peterson. "Everybody's wondering if they're going to be next."

Uhlmann acknowledged the employee uncertainty caused by the lay-offs.

"Is there some nervousness among employees? Yes, it's only natural given the significant changes occurring. However, work is getting done and credit unions are being served. Our employees understand why the change is necessary," he said.

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