Union Representing CUNA Mutual Workers Hoping For Best From New CEO

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The Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 39, which represents workers who have been without a contract at CUNA Mutual Group for more than a year, said it's been getting mixed messages from the company's new CEO, Jeff Post.

"We were encouraged by the board hiring someone from outside to lead CUNA Mutual Group, and we're encouraged by Jeff Post's hiring of [labor relations expert] Peter Burdick to help guide this process," said OPEIU's John Peterson. "But he is making issues of things that aren't issues and trying to make it look like we are the problem."

Peterson told The Credit Union Journal about the union's concerns after reading The Journal's interview with Post in the Feb. 28 issue.

"There are some things being said without understanding how we got here," Peterson said of Post's statements to The Credit Union Journal. "To say that part of the work force has to go in order to save money is anti-credit union. Credit unions aren't founded on money, they're founded on people."

But Post is the first one to note that he has no experience with union labor issues and is still learning about how CUNA Mutual Group and the union that represents approximately 1,400 of its workforce, have gotten to such an acrimonious point.

Indeed, he told The Credit Union Journal that was why he hired an expert in labor relations and to help "deprogram" him of some of his biases.

One such bias: the 37-hour work week union employees had had for decades, compared with the more typical 40-hour work week. Post noted that he and probably millions of Americans would be happy simply to remember the last time they only worked 40 hours, much less 37.

"Back in 1940, CUNA Mutual Group and the union agreed to a 37.5-hour work week. We have more than 60 years' precedent of having a workweek with less than 40 hours. And it was 20 years ago that they agreed to knock off that last half hour and make it a straight 37 hours," Peterson related. "CUNA Mutual Group was a leader in offering summer hours and family-friendly work hours. There was an amazing amount of overtime worked at CUNA Mutual because people believe in the movement and were dedicated to CUNA Mutual Group, but not anymore."

But the real point, Peterson asserted, is in making sure the workers are still able to be part of the process.

"It's not about money, it's about having a voice in the process," he said. "It seems clear that they have made an internal decision to get rid of the union."

Peterson said neither he nor any local union representatives have met with Post, yet, so while some of Post's comments were "cause for concern," he is still hopeful that Post's decision to bring in labor relations expertise from the outside is a good sign.

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