CUNA Mutual To Lay Off Up To 185 People As It Continues To Retrench

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CUNA Mutual Group announced it is laying off as many as 185 employees in its Madison and Waverly, Iowa, offices and plans to outsource much of the work to third-party providers, as the credit union insurer continues to reshape itself.

The latest round of employee cutbacks, the third in the past three months, will claim about 145 back-office workers in Madison and about 40 in Waverly in the food service, documents, facilities, grounds, interior design, marketing and printing departments, are positions that generally provided support to the company and its employees, according to Rick Uhlmann, a spokesperson for CUNA Mutual.

The lay-offs are the direct result of the company's top-to-bottom review and its re-focus on having the company do what it does best, according to Uhlmann.

"We're trying to stick to our core competencies," he said.

"Our change effort will be comprehensive and touch every part of CUNA Mutual over the next three years," Jeff Post, the company's CEO, said in a prepared statement announcing the lay-offs. "The actions we are taking are difficult-and necessary. Our decisions have come only after fully examining our company, our options, and the future of the marketplace."

All displaced employees will receive severance packages and CUNA Mutual will help place them with any third-party outsourcers that may be hired to perform the work, said Uhlmann.

Much of the work is expected to be transferred to vendors who employ a predominantly local workforce.

CUNA Mutual said it is working closely with the employees and their union, the Office and Professional Employees International Union, which ended a bitter contract negotiation over issues like outsourcing just a few months ago.

Union officials acknowledged the new contract allows for CUNA Mutual to outsource under certain circumstances. "They have the right now to do this," said John Peterson, spokesman for the union. "We're going to work hard to get those people either other jobs with CUNA Mutual or other jobs with the vendors they've hired to do the work."

The latest round of lay-offs, to be completed in the first quarter of 2006, come a few weeks after 60 other Madison employees were given notice, and a month after as many as 190 at CUNA Mutual Mortgage lost their jobs in nearby Fitchburg, Wis., when the mortgage operation was sold to PHH Corp.

This may not be the end of the lay-offs, either, according to Uhlmann. "More change will be coming to CUNA Mutual," he said.

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