Your Voice, Your Choice
OPEIU Local 39
October 2017
Energy, brought to you by Labor
Heading into fall, our profile this month is on the members of MG&E, one of the energy companies serving greater Madison. You'll find out some of the history as well as a list of those serving the union as stewards and others.

OPEIU is sponsoring the Madison West Football program, more below. And there is also a membership meeting coming up in November. Don't worry, it's before either hunting or holiday travel season kicks off. We'd love to see everyone there.
Who We Are: Next in a Series
Madison Gas & Electric
Everyday our clocks tell us it's time to wake up, the lights banish the night, and the water is hot as we get ready for work. We flip switches and just expect everything electric to work and we just expect the fuel to keep our homes warm in the winter.

That all comes from somewhere and in the Madison area many of us are served by Madison Gas and Electric Co. the main subsidiary of MGE Energy, Inc. It, or its predecessors, have been operating in the Madison area since 1855. Cliff Murray, Chief Steward for OPIEU at MG&E, told me via email: "Like our company most of the industry saw unions first with the physical positions, lineman, plant workers, laborers. Then later office professions organized.I know little history about our beginnings other than some of our earliest contracts were from the late 1950's...."

Just like our friends in the paper mills, more than one Union represents the workers at the company. "We represent members in many areas of the company from our Call Center, Accounting, Billing, Operations, Mapping, Data and Office services departments." Most of the labor positions are represented by IBEW 2304.

I asked Cliff about the working relationship with the other union and its members: "We have worked together, especially at contract time, our contracts have always expired jointly but we bargain separately with the company, with the exception of pension and health at times. The company will always try to play one against the other at times, but we try to work together. It represents a different kind of challenge, but can be used as a strength."
Multiple unions representing different areas in an industry as rapidly changing as energy. That sounds like a recipe for a contentious relationship with management. Cliff's response dispelled that idea: "I would say [our relationship with management has] improved in the over 35 years I've been here, other than the pension battle in 2006. There are always disagreements, but we are never not able to sit down and discuss our issues with management. Management usually informs us of issues and understands our duty to represent our members."

No frustrations? "I think we have some of the same frustrations of our other units, but not at the same levels. ... It would seem over the last couple of years we finally hit the point where positions have to be filled and actually have added a couple new positions." It sounds like the regular frustrations of two groups both trying to do their part.

Thirty five years with the company can give a pretty good perspective on things. I asked Cliff, what makes him most proud of his union. His answer can give us hope for the future of the union movement itself: "Most recently our younger and newer members willing to step up to get involved."

Getting everyone involved is the key to keeping a local healthy and vital. If you're at MGE and want to get involved, look below. If you're with one of the other units, lr contact the Union office.
Stewards at Madison Gas & Electric
Below is a list of all of the current Stewards and other positions for MG&E.

If anyone is interested in volunteering to be a Steward or help in other ways, please reach out to the Chief Steward of your area (if you have one) or our Business Agent, Debi Eveland in the office. We can provide information on the duties and answer any questions you may have.
  • Cliff Murray, Chief Steward, ext 4776
  • Nick Petrykowski, Steward, ext 4701
  • Kelsey Hahn, Steward, Insurance Committee / Recording Secretary / OPEIU Board Member, ext 7396
  • Courtney Wilson, Steward, ext 7929
  • Carmen Coats, Steward, ext 7996
  • Doreen Slinde, Alternate Steward / Insurance Committee, ext 7973
  • Nicole Scheidegger, Alternate Steward, ext 7968
  • Claudia Lopez-Velasco, Alternate Steward
  • Malee Yang, Insurance Committee
OPEIU Sponsors Madison West Football
OPEIU Local 39 has sponsored the Madison West Football Program, by replacing the football jerseys for the South Side Raiders which is a feeder system into Madison West Program. The prior jerseys were very old and had not been replaced for over a decade.

This program relies heavily on donors to support the program.

We received a tremendous response from the players and coaches for our support and the players have a new pride in their program with their new jerseys.
Photo by Brad Murphy
PS - Membership Meeting in November
The Union succeeds through everyone's efforts. Please join us Wednesday, November 15th at 5:30 PM.
Membership Meetings
Membership meetings are held the third Wednesday of the second month of the quarter, at 5:30 PM in the Union Office.

November 15, 2017
February 21, 2018
May 16, 2018
August 15, 2018

This is your Union. Your participation gives us the strength to face the continued opposition of both companies and politicians.
Unions = Gym Membership
Know Your Weingarten Rights!
The US Supreme Court has ruled that the National Labor Relations Act gives workers the right to request union representation during investigatory interviews by supervisors, security personal, and other managerial staff. These are called Weingarten Rights.
An investigatory interview occurs if 1) management questions you to obtain information; and 2) you have reasonable apprehension that your answers could be used as a basis for discipline or other adverse action.
You must ask for union representation either before or during an investigatory interview. Management does not have to remind you of this right. If your request is refused and Management continues asking questions, you may refuse to answer. Your employer is guilty of an unfair labor practice and charges may be filed. If you are questioned in a situation where Weingarten may apply, read or present this statement:

"If this discussion could in any way lead to my being disciplined or terminated, or affect my personal working conditions, I respectfully request that my union representative, officer, or steward be present at this meeting. Until my representative arrives, I choose not to participate in this discussion."
Local 39 Union Offices
701 Watson Ave
Ste 102
Madison WI 53713
If you have any news you would like to share with other Members, please let us know! You can contact us via email or on our Facebook page.