Union-Backed Candidates Win Control

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A six-month contest for control of union-sponsored Madison County FCU culminated last week with organized labor regaining control of the beleaguered CU.

Union-backed candidates won four of the $65-million credit union's seven board seats last week, delivering the upper hand in the ongoing contract negotiations back to the credit union's employee union.

"It's not going to solve everything immediately, but eventually it will," said James Hensley, chief negotiator for the Office and Professional Employees International Union, Local 1, which represents 27 of the CU's employees. "Hopefully, we'll be able to go ahead and finish negotiations now. We don't have too many issues left."

The boardroom coup came two weeks after concerted union pressure forced the resignation of credit union manager Cheryl Lohman, the union's chief antagonist who was charged with union-busting tactics. Lohman's elimination from the negotiating process has speeded up settlement talks, more than six months in the works, according to Hensley. "We've been settling some things lately because it's been pretty clear she's been on her way out," he said.

The board elections came three months after the union was forced back to work following an unsuccessful month- long strike. Since then labor relations have soured even more with the union filing several unfair labor charges with federal officials at the National Labor Relations Board.

Elected to the board last week were: incumbent Bill Riffe, former head of the local teachers union; Dan Gore, president of the postal workers; Tony Bowman and Bruce Boerner, both members of the city workers union. "All of these people have been or are union people. So we're in pretty good shape," Hensley said.

The credit union was founded by the local teachers union and represents members of local unions representing municipal workers, police and fire fighters, and county employees

Hensley and the OPEIU represent employees at more than half-dozen area credit unions.

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