After eight weeks of negotiations, the contract bargaining with CUNA Mutual Financial Group (CMFG) has resulted in a strong contract with several wins and few compromises.
The Company had stated going in that their number one goal was a radical change in the health care options for represented employees. Their intent was to end participation in all HMOs that have been part of the contract for decades, forcing all represented workers into Consumer Driven Health Plans as they had with non-represented workers at the end of last year. The Union Bargaining team held firm throughout negotiations, offering numerous proposals in addressing the Company's monetary concerns even as they were listening to Membership's strong objections to getting rid of the HMOs. In the end, the Company came to realize that Membership would not vote in favor of any contract that did not have at least one HMO. Even though the Union did agree to reduce the number of active HMOs, the great majority of members will not have to change their health care choices.
Other wins for the Union were three additional job classification levels that will help with retention and hiring, especially the two new entry-level ones, allowing that work to go to Union members instead of outsourced to contractors. New employees are also now able to join the Union after 31 days of employment instead of waiting for the end of their probation period. We also got additional limitations on contractors and promises from the Company to work on the issue.
There will be across the board raises for each year of this contract and contract language was changed to allow retention raises and bonuses for any reason that management saw fit. Members also gained the ability to take paid Parental Leave for up to four weeks at 60% of salary. This kicks in after July of this year and applies to both mothers and fathers and adoptions as well as births. The Company had also wanted to end Retiree Health Reimbursement Accounts (retiree HRAs), but the bargaining team held firm and there are few changes to those plans.
This was a strong win for the Union and demonstrated the power in Solidarity. Union members showed a quiet presence by wearing blue on Wednesdays, bringing their water bottles to meetings and wearing OPEIU stickers during an all-staff meeting. That solidarity was noted and helped get us the best contract result in years when Membership ratified the contract with 93% voting in favor.
This contract also proved the value of belonging to a Union. Non-represented employees have lost a lot in the last few years compared to those of us in the Union. Yes, non-represented do get a higher CSSP payout percentage. In contrast, many Union members get:
- An HMO option
- Guaranteed annual raises
- Guaranteed CSSP payout (dependent on CSSP metrics)
- Personal days
- Sick leave balance bank
- Vacation carry over of 10 days instead of 5
- Eight sick days earned yearly instead of 5
- Retiree HRAs
The value of having a Union as well as the power in Solidarity was proven in this last contract. If anyone tells you that the dues aren't "worth it" just show them this list.
Together we are Union Strong.