Put a union in a company and wages go up, safety increases, and workers are better off. That's not a slogan, even employers know it, or they wouldn't fight so hard to push unions out! Our members at Connexus are in a tough fight as their company is doing everything it can to eliminate the union! Read on to see how you can support our members wherever they are.
Unions Raise Everyone's Wages
Union Fish
It isn't a secret that being part of a Union raises wages. Workers uniting in their bargaining will always bring about a better contract, including wages, than any individual bargaining alone or working without any contract at all. If Unions didn't capture for their members a bigger part of the company pie, companies wouldn't work so hard to keep unions out!

Which must be why the employer at our unit at Connexus is actively engaging with some members of the union, promising better wages and benefits if they vote to eliminate the Union! Connexus management is making false promises to employees in exchange for employees to relinquish all their rights under a contract.

A 2017 report from the Economic Policy Institute found that "Collective bargaining is an important force in reducing inequality and ensuring that low- and middle-wage workers are given a fair return on their work.... Working people in unions use their power in numbers to secure a fairer share of the income they create. On average, a worker covered by a union contract earns 13.2 percent more in wages than a peer with similar education, occupation, and experience in a nonunionized workplace in the same sector."

It's obvious that the employer at Connexus is afraid of the bargaining power of the Union. By trying to splinter the union, shift some workers into thinking that they can do better for themselves than they can together, the company is saying, very plainly, just how strong workers are when they are united by a union. By striving to eliminate the Union, despite short-term promises, Connexus is hoping that they can do to the workers there the same thing that has happened to workers all across our country with the decline of unions: less pay, less safety, less power.

University of Illinois sociology professor Tom VenHeuvelen stated in the August 2018 article The economy is booming, your salary is not: Blame the decline of unions: “'Typically, you hear people say that these benefits like higher wages are not the result of unions–it’s people’s inherent abilities or demographics, and if you could measure for those, you would find that union effects are smaller, or not there at all,' VanHeuvelen says. That assumption, he says, did not play out in his research."

So it is vital that we support our Connexus union members and encourage them to stand with the union against the blandishments of the company. Union strong we can get and keep good wages, a good contract.
News around the Local
See updates below from around the Local. Your business agents have been very busy!
International Convention 2019
We had a successful OPEIU International last week where the focus is organizing. Organizing internally at a current unit and organizing externally by bringing in new units of employees at new work sites. In order for unions to maintain the higher wages and benefits all unions must organize. OPEIU Local 39 is in the process of hiring our first organizer.  We hope to have that person in place soon.
Still Ongoing Negotiations with Aspirus
This appears to be the never-ending contract negotiations but we are finally scheduled to meet with management on July 18th. There has been a delay in negotiations because the employer proposed a settlement to a grievance that, if were agreed to, would have given away rights by employees under the recognition clause, caused employees who work overtime to earn overtime pay after a 40-hour work week instead of an 8-hour day, and wages that don’t allow employees to even pay for their employer sponsored healthcare. The employees of this unit have been unified in their strength by standing against their employers low wage, high cost healthcare proposals. Employees standing together will result in a contract that will benefit everyone.
Bargaining at Verso at a standstill
Negotiations are somewhat at a standstill. Changes in human resource managers has not helped the situation as it has disrupted negotiations and at times leaving weeks without negotiating at all. We are hoping to meet in July and finish negotiations.
Connexus trying to splinter the Union!
Please support your fellow members at Connexus, fighting against an employer making false promises instead of bargaining fairly. Let us all remember that when an employer works this hard against employees to give up their hard fought rights and benefits then they are actually telling employees how powerful they are with that contract. Support Connexus employees by telling them to stand strong against management’s tactics. We are stronger together!
Joyce Frisch celebrates 40 years!
Joyce Frisch began working at CUNA Mutual Group over 40 years ago, beginning in April 1979. Things were quite different then: "When I first started we all had typewriters and were able to smoke at our desk and most of us had underground parking because we were in a residential area. The managers and their assistants (secretary at that time) would meet over coffee and smoke." Something like the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion sessions being held now at CMFG weren't even on the horizon. "The DEI sessions and speakers the company has brought in has been an eye opener for me and kind of a “WOW” factor! Especially for a white female raised on a farm in a town with a population of 300 in southwestern Iowa county and no college degree."

Things have changed for the Union in that time as well, and not all for the better. As a percentage of the workforce, the Union has lost members and benefits have slowly been eroded as the strength of the company grew in comparison. There used to be a bonus at Christmas and, after being with the company for ten years, "the union had longevity, which would pay out 3 – 7% of your annual salary every year on your anniversary.... The percentage was based on 10, 15, 20+ years of service. I was finally at the 7%" when members voted it out of the contract.

Even so, she learned to take advantage of the stability offered by being in the union. "I’ve been in the union for 40 years. I’ve had the opportunity to change positions within the same division / department or within the company without leaving CUNA Mutual. It’s kind of like going to a different company." She told me she's "had three great careers; Employee Benefits Division, Credit Union Visits and CU System Relations/Event and Exhibit Marketing managing our trade show program for our Leagues and Trade Association partners." and encourages people starting at the company today to "Take advantage of the college tuition reimbursement or any training available" and to "ask questions! In any role, ask the question who uses this information and how is it used" pointing out that "It's always been done this way" is no longer a good enough reason to keep doing something.

I asked what advice she would have for our newest union members. She told me that when someone takes a union position, they should "take the time to know what your union benefits and overall company provided benefits are. I’ve spoken to a few employees who have been here under 5 years and talked about the union and their benefits overall. The answer I get is “I don’t know, or I didn’t know that”. Stay informed!!!"
Unions = Gym Membership
Upcoming Membership Meetings
Membership meetings are held the third Wednesday of the second month of the quarter, at 5:30PM at the Union Office.

August 21, 2019
November 20, 2019
February 19, 2020
May 20th, 2020

This is your Union. Your participation gives us the strength to face the continued opposition of both politicians and companies.
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."
If you have any news you would like to share with other Members, please let us know! You can contact us via email or our Facebook page.