How much tie-in exists between CUNA Mutual Group and the boisterous Wisconsin labor protest now in its ninth day in Madison?
So far, officials of the union local representing the 700 employees of CMG said they are firmly in support of the labor cause attacking what it calls Gov. Scott Walker's attempt to destroy collective bargaining.
"My husband and I joined by other members of the union have been to the capital several times and more are planning to go to rallies this weekend," said Kathryn Bartlett-Mulvihill, a CMG plan specialist and president of Local 39 of the Office & Professional Employees International Union.
Bartlett-Mulvihill said the talk about a general strike in Wisconsin led by the 97-union South Central Federation of Labor of Wisconsin remains premature awaiting developments in the legislature and whether the Republican governor succeeds in enacting bills to strip most bargaining rights from public employee unions.
As it impacts private unions, "the issue on the table will be collective bargaining rights" said Bartlett-Mulvihill, and as for whether the OPEIU local might join a strike shutdown, "that is several steps away," That is something that would require a vote by local members as well as by the international union and so "we're a long way from that point," said Bartlett-Mulvihill.
CUNA Mutual officials said they do not anticipate labor issues at the state government level to affect operations at CUNA Mutual. "It's business as usual here and we don't expect that to change," said Rick Uhlmann, senior manager of media relations.
OPEIU officials in Wisconsin, encouraging ongoing participation in the Madison protests by its major locals in Eau Claire, Milwaukee, Wisconsin Rapids and Madison, said they were heartened by the support the labor movement is receiving for similar fights in Indiana and Ohio.
"This is all a throwback to 1935 and an attempt at union-busting and we're glad to see the same thing happen in Indiana yesterday where the Democrats left and Ohio, too," said Gary Nuber of Saginaw, Mich., OPEIU's senior international representative covering locals in eight Midwestern states.