view | Madison should be upset about the treatment of the CNA workers | John Nichols

The National Labor Relations Board found merit in charging CUNA Mutual Group with unfair labor practices. This is a major development in the ongoing dispute between one of Madison’s best-known employers and the union representing about 450 workers employed by the historically well-known insurance company.

“The employer intentionally obstructed and violated our contract, both before and during contract negotiations, and did so knowing that he was in breach of the law,” said Joe Ivica, the union’s chief supervisor.

The Capital Times reported last week that “the outcome in the unfair labor practices case, which was announced to the parties by telephone on Wednesday, means the union’s charge against the employer can continue.” According to the union, the board ordered the company, which changed its name from CUNA Mutual Group to TruStage in May, to immediately turn over information it had withheld.

I’m Madison, so you’ll excuse me if I refer to CUNA Mutual as CUNA Mutual – not TruStage.

TruStage is the nonsensical name that some of the marketing team came up with as part of their scheme to upend an organization founded in the midst of the Great Depression in 1935 to provide financial protection to member institutions of the National Association of Credit Union.

Historically, credit unions have respected and adopted the best traditions of the co-operative movement, the great experience in solidarity economics that developed as an alternative to the commercial structures that emerged at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution.

The nineteenth-century ancestors of today’s Wall Street corporate executives and speculators were building what the poet William Blake so accurately described as “Dark Satanic Mills” — institutions in which workers were exploited, where child labor abuses were rampant and where societies lost control over their businesses. economic destinies.

The co-operative movement sought to regain that control, and credit unions—operating on more humane and responsible principles than private banks and unscrupulous moneylenders—would eventually serve as attractive alternatives to the beneficiaries who once determined and controlled financial arrangements.

“One way in which cooperatives differ from other business structures is their commitment to cooperative principles and values ​​that reflect social, political, and business interests,” explains the UW Center for Cooperatives. Cooperatives trace the roots of these principles back to the pioneers of Rochdale, who founded the first modern co-operative in Rochdale, England, in 1844. These principles have been refined, adapted and reinterpreted over time. The seven principles that the International Cooperative Alliance uses today are generally accepted by cooperatives around the world. Cooperatives are also based on the values ​​of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, fairness, and solidarity. The members of the cooperative believe in the ethical values ​​of honesty, openness, social responsibility, and concern for others.”

This collaborative connection made CUNA and CUNA Mutual a perfect fit for Madison, a city with progressive traditions and respect for ethical business practices. Unfortunately, as CUNA Mutual Group became TruStage, progressive values ​​have been replaced by corporate values—as evidenced by the company’s awful approach in negotiations with Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 39, a historic pillar of the Madison labor movement that it represented for decades for CUNA Mutual workers.

The union wants to prevent the outsourcing of CUNA Mutual’s jobs from Madison while preserving other aspects of what has made the insurance company such a widely respected and highly profitable employer. The TruStage crew focuses on a minimal strategy of downsizing, outsourcing and merging companies – no matter the cost to the company’s reputation.

This was evident when, instead of engaging in honest and honest negotiations, the bosses terminated Evica, chief host for OPEIU Local 39 at CUNA Mutual.

Evica’s firing led to one of many unfair labor practices complaints filed against TruStage directors. Other complaints included allegations that the company bargained in bad faith, retaliated against union members, engaged in illegal surveillance of union members and withheld information from the union.

The company denied these allegations. But last week’s NLRB report, which found merit in the charge that the company illegally withheld information from the union and its members, suggests that concerns about the practices of the TruStage staff that acquired CUNA Mutual are legitimate enough to attract the attention of federal officials.

That should get Madison interested, too. What is being done for CUNA Mutual, its employees, and its community is not right.

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