MADISON, Wis. – CUNA Mutual Group CEO Mike Kitchen resigned suddenly in ’04 after informing the board that he had offered financial assistance to a group of employees looking to break away from the union and form their own bargaining unit. Kitchen was essentially forced to resign given the potential effects of his actions on the labor dispute at the company. Kitchen is by far the biggest casualty to date in the dispute. His departure is ironic in a number of ways. Kitchen is credited by many for turning CUNA Mutual into a more diverse financial services company poised for future growth. Kitchen in 2003 was honored with a prestigious award for immigrants who have made an impact in the U.S. He also received his U.S. citizenship just a few years ago. According to the union, Kitchen was close to getting the two sides to agree on a new collective bargaining agreement after twice meeting in person with Office of Professional Employees International Union CEO Michael Goodwin. His actions leading to his resignation are also intriguing. Some find it hard to believe that such a seasoned executive would make such a dangerous move of offering money to employees to break from the union. The union claims Kitchen was set up, but nothing has ever been proven. Credit Union Times has spoken to Kitchen on occasion since his departure and he consistently commends his former employees. “I just want them to know how much I valued them, and how professional I thought they were,” he said. Kitchen, 59, maintains he did nothing illegal. CUNA Mutual CFO Jeff Holley is serving as interim CEO as CUNA Mutual conducts a nationwide CEO search.

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