Separation Bid Could Scotch CUNA MutualUnion

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MADISON, Wis. - (09/22/04) -- A rare initiative to create aseparate bargaining unit for the professional employees in theunion at CUNA Mutual Group could end up decertifying the union, thelocal 39 of the Office and Professional Employees InternationalUnion. A group of professionals has amended a petition submitted tofederal labor authorities which could result in members of theunion, embroiled in a bitter seventh-month labor contract impassewith the company, voting to decertify the union, according to antop official at the National Labor Relations Board. "The questionis, is decertification a more appropriate vehicle (to achieving theseparation)," said Irving Gottschalk, acting regional director forthe NLRB. Dennis Krull, one of the CUNA Mutual employees organizingthe separation effort, insisted their intention is not to decertifythe union, but to separate the existing bargaining unit andcontinue to be represented by the OPEIU. "We're not looking todecertify," he told The Credit Union Journal. Gottschalk said theNLRB will not act on the group's petition until it rules on thevalidity of an unfair labor practice charge brought by the unionalleging, among other things, that CUNA Mutual executives helpedcreate the rare separation initiative. The professional employeesgroup is represented by the same attorney who represented CUNA CUwhen its employees voted to decertify the same union two yearsago.

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