Your Voice, Your Choice
OPEIU Local 39
March 2017
Moving Forward

It can be hard to thrive as employees while feeling as if we are constantly under siege from the pressures of our jobs. It is now March and spring is almost here and it is time for some good news.

While the world may look a little chaotic right now, here at home your Union continues to work to protect its members and to help improve your work life. Below we talk about the role of the Union and where members can direct their questions to regarding their contract or issues relating to their jobs.

Role of the Union
Not just Negotiations

Most of us don't think about what the Union does outside of negotiating contracts for us. Besides the wage increases most of us are seeing, this isn't what most workers who don't have Unions experience. During 2016, workers as a group saw the first real increase in wages since the Recession seven years earlier. It may be better than it was, but even so, once adjusted for inflation, most workers are earning less now than they were in 1996.

Besides wage increases, let's review what other benefits and protections we receive from our contracts.

Our bargaining units are in a wide variety of industries and economic pressures are different for each unit within the local. Each contract untilizes members from each unit to be part of the bargaining team, along with the help of the local's business agents, to bargain contracts with members of management from each employer.

The contracts we have protect members when employers seek reductions in employee wages and benefits due to economic recessions or other management desires. During the last recession, we witnessed at several of our employers how management cut vacation days, personal days, reduced options on medical, froze pension plans and wages for non-represented staff.

Represented staff kept the wages and benefits that had been negotiated, including the caps on health insurance, and we received our across the board wage increases right on schedule.  In addition, when economic times become difficult unions have a place at the table with management to negotiate how best to adjust to possible financial difficulties while non-represented staff are at the mercy of whatever the employer decides.

But even more importantly, if the employer seeks to investigate or discipline a union member, members have contractual rights that protect them from any unjust discipline by the employer.  Members can exercise their Weingarten rights and request a steward if they are called in for an investigative or discipline meeting with management.  Having the assistance of steward helps members navigate what often is a very difficult situation.  Stewards work to ensure that management stays within the law and our contract and that unjust disciplines are avoided.

If an unjust discipline or other contractual violation has occurred by the employer, Unions use member’s dues to grieve those issues.  If a grievance is not resolved then it will often go to arbitration which will include the use of business agents, lawyers and court costs.  Those costs do continue to rise each year but grievances are never not advanced due to costs.  Your dues ensure that you and your fellow members are treated fairly under the terms of the contract.

The constant effort by the Union leadership to ensure compliance of the contract by the employer rounds out the benefits of membership. Our across the board increases make Union members the exception in wages and benefits when compared to other non-union employers and having rights under a contract provides a level of job security that non-represented employees never experience.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, "One of the main causes of stagnant wages and rising wage inequality is the decline of collective bargaining which has lowered the wages of both union and nonunion workers." Clink on the image below for more.
Who Do You Call?

If you have gotten a review for 2016 and were surprised by what your manager told you of your performance, you should contact one of your Stewards or the Union office. If a review is something that is in the contract, there is language about how they are to be conducted and how you are to be evaluated. If the Company is not following the contract, the Union will help you. 

Below is a list of all of the current Stewards and their bargaining units. Click on their names to open an email (NOTE: All of the emails are to work addresses. Be careful what you disclose to anyone when using Company email).

We are always in need of more Stewards if anyone is interested in volunteering to be a Steward 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.

CUNA Mutual Group

Chief Steward
Mike Pionke

Nancy Dietzmann-Mills
Laura Lowrey
Susan Werner
Richard Oberle
Gary Braman
DeAnna Braaksma

Note: Phil Miller has left CUNA Mutual and is no longer a Steward. We want to thank Phil for his years of service and wish him the best.


Chief Steward
Sam Klepfer

Bill Burns

News From Around the Local
CUNA Mutual Group

Wins for the Union at CMG:

  • Two members were laid off and a 3rd member with more seniority in the same job title volunteered to be laid off so that was a win for the Union and the members. The member who wanted to stay stayed and the members that wanted severance took severance.
  • We had an individual apply for a position and was denied the position due to not meeting the minimum requirements of the job. The Union contacted the company stating that the company had violated the contract by not giving a timely written notice to the member with the reasoning why they did not meet the minimums. After further review by the company, it was determined that the individual did meet the minimums and was offered and accepted the position.
  • We had two members in the same job title that were in the Technical Professional Salary Range, their position was re-evaluated and they were promoted to a higher grade but the company mistakenly moved them in to the Business Professional Salary range. This error was brought forward by a Union Steward and the company fixed the error.

In other news, we have been meeting with the company and reviewing positions that have been moved out of the bargaining unit to determine whether they should have been moved out of the unit. If we determine that they should not have been moved out of the unit then we will determine how to transition them back.

North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters (NCSRCC)
The Union will be sending a notice to the employer opening the contract for negotiations.  The contract expires at the end of May, 2017.  We have communicated with membership and have asked for input on any concerns or items that should be addressed.
Alex Wollangk, Chief Steward atCUNA, Inc. was laid off in February. We would like to thank Alex for his service to the Union and membership. Sam Klepfer has volunteered to step forward as the Chief Steward. Sam was involved with contract negotiations in the fall and we look forward to our continued working relationship with Sam.

Elections were held for Chief steward and Steward positions at Madison Gas and Electric (the list above is current following the results of the election). We would like to thank the following members for serving on the election committee: Merl Banks, and Kasey Windmer. And a special thank you to outgoing Stewards Rachel Rome, and Carro Yang for their hard work, dedication and giving of their time for their follow union members.

The Union has been meeting with the company on several issues, including the use to temporary employees on short term projects, filling vacancies, and developing a new Safety Award program. We are also in the process of developing a “Near Miss/Good Catch” process that encourages reporting/learning from safety issues in a no-blame environment.

Don't forget to have your child apply to one of several Union Scholarships !
Membership Meetings
Membership meetings are held the third Wednesday of the second month of the quarter, at 5:30 PM in the Union Office.

May 17, 2017
August 17, 2017
November 15, 2017
February 21, 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.