Your Voice, Your Choice
OPEIU Local 39
April 2017
Making it a Little Easier

We hope that you've had a chance to begin enjoying the change in weather. Spring seems to have finally stuck the landing and it's time to get out and enjoy it.

In this month's newsletter you'll find an exciting announcement from OPEIU: a student debt relief scholarship. Read more about student debt and find out how to apply for the scholarship, below.

There's also a reminder that the spring Membership Meeting is next month and news from around the local.

The Student Debt Crisis
Over 70% Graduate
in Debt

Student debt has often been in the news the last few years. The Obama administration made several moves to ease the burden somewhat, including issuing a pair of memoranda to the Federal Student Aid office to try to help borrowers manage debt, but those efforts were rolled back just this week by Betsy DeVos, Education Secretary under President Trump.

For its part, OPEIU has begun the OPEIU Student Debt Reduction Scholarship Program. Click the link above to learn more and to fill out an application.

But how did we get here? Before the 1980s, the more the country gained in productivity, the higher wages were for workers. One of the benefits of that rise in wages was that, until the early '80s "a student could reasonably work during their summer break ... to afford school."

Since the 1980s, Union membership has been in decline, the minimum wage has hardly budged, real wages have gone down, and the cost of college has gone up more than almost any other good or service that isn't related to healthcare. Now a student has to work nearly a full calendar year to earn enough to pay for one year of college.

But we continue to tell young people to go to college because in spite of the all the expected debt (barely) having that degree can, for most people, result in a huge lifetime return on investment. The problem is, the student's investment is "the worst kind of debt for Americans - and the best kind for banks and debt collectors" thanks to laws enacted by Congress.

What it all means is that over 44 million people owe more than $1.4 trillion in student debt and rising. That's more debt than owed to every auto loan or even credit card in the country

The graphic above is a few years old, but shows the true scope of the crisis. Click on the graphic for a larger version.
If you already have student debt, look to the OPEIU program to see if you qualify. If you're concerned about the mountain of debt that students are saddled with, consider carefully before you vote, because student debt is a political problem. Most nations in Europe don't leave their children buried in debt.

Held at the Union Office

This is the IBEW Union Building: 701 Watson Ave, Madison WI 53713

We meet in the conference room one floor up from our Local's offices.

PS - Membership Meeting in May
The Union succeeds through everyone's efforts. Please join us next month, May 17th at 5:30 PM.

  • Unit Updates
  • Financial Updates
  • Update on Merger with Local 95

Other News from Around the Union
New Contract for Aspirus Hospital!

Aspirus Riverview Hospital in Wisconsin Rapids has ratified a new two year contract! The new contract brought 2% ATB and increases to shift differential pay, delayed changes to PTO, and a $450.00 ratification bonus.

The employees ratified the contract by 100% unanimous vote. Congratulations!

Membership meetings are held the third Wednesday of the second month of the quarter, at 5:30 PM in the Union Office.

May 17th, 2017
August 16th, 2017
November 15, 2017
February 21st, 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