Union, CUNA Mutual Remain At Odds

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The union representing 1,400 CUNA Mutual Group employees has filed a charge with the National Labor Relations Board accusing the company of engaging in illegal acts during the negotiations over a contract proposal that was rejected by the workers.

The filing came on the heels of news that CUNA Mutual Group had agreed to a request by the Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 39 to set a May 5 meeting to begin contract negotiations again.

"The company has launched an illegal frontal assault on our members' bargaining rights, and we're not going to stand by and take it," said John Peterson, business manager of OPEIU Local 39. "They are conducting bad faith bargaining."

CUNA Mutual Group responded that the union has a right to file with NLRB and that such action is not uncommon in situations where parties have not come to agreement after a contract has expired.

"The assertion that we conducted bad faith bargaining is false. The company has bargained in good faith and will continue to do so," CMG's Sydney Lindner said. "The parties met face to face for nearly 60 hours and exchanged bargaining proposals. CUNA Mutual modified its proposals on numerous occasions including enhancing its economic package more than once."

But the union said it is as concerned about its ability to represent the workers on issues such as outsourcing as it is about the salary side of the package.

"When the company first gave us their proposal on March 1, we objected to them," Peterson related. "They made slight changes to it, but the way we see it, their proposal definitely takes away our legal rights."

Although the employees have pledged not to go on strike, many are doing "informational picketing," using their lunch hours to picket in front of CUNA Mutual Group.

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