MADISON, Wis. – New CUNA Mutual CEO Jeff Post is eagerly attacking the learning curve in a new industry, and based on the recent negotiating sessions he’s probably learning that the labor dispute at CUNA Mutual isn’t any closer to settlement than it was six months ago. Post, who is ostensibly excited about the new position, has already taken a trip to Washington to meet with CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica and other credit union leaders. Post said after he and his wife spent a few days with them, his wife remarked, “you didn’t join a company, you joined a family.” Post said his initial impression of the credit union industry is there’s a lot of collaboration and focus on doing what’s best for members. It’s not as cut-throat as the property & casualty world he comes from, though making money is important for any business. He said CUNA Mutual’s ROE is below 10% which he thinks is too low. He’d like to see it in the 12 to 15% range as is more typical for the insurance industry. Post is currently searching for a home in the Madison area, where he will move to with his wife and golden retriever. Post said he had other job offers in the insurance industry, but chose CUNA Mutual because of its diversification. “We underwrite products, we design and sell products that aren’t insurance related. On top of that we sell other people’s products,” said Post. On Feb. 3, for the first time, Post addressed CUNA Mutual employees in person. “What you see is what you get with me. I am absolutely about winning. That is my goal for individual employees and the company. At the end of the day, it’s about people . getting them aligned with the company’s vision so we’re all pulling in the same direction.” Getting the company and its union in the same direction is going to prove a challenge. On Feb. 2 and 3 officials from CUNA Mutual and its union, the Office of Professional Employees International Union Local 39, met from 9:00 to 5:00 at The Concourse hotel in Madison, but were unable to break any new ground in the negotiations. “I don’t think they were prepared to negotiate. They didn’t bring any serious proposals,” said OPEIU Local 39 Business Manager John Peterson. “It’s going to take a Loretta Burd or a Jeff Post to step in and say `let’s get this done’,” said Peterson. Burd is CUNA Mutual’s chairman. According to a CUNA Mutual spokesperson, the company is working up responses to some union inquiries. The union is specifically inquiring about the company’s economic proposal. The company has said that its revised proposal represents $22 million in new money over the old contract, however the union feels that number is not accurate. Once that information is exchanged, CUNA Mutual was hoping to schedule new sessions, however the company said the union turned down its request. In fact the union is now saying that it will not negotiate with the company until it withdraws proposals that led to some of the union’s complaints to the National Labor Relations Board. The union contends the proposals give CUNA Mutual the power to use outsourcing and make wage changes and health insurance changes to employees who change jobs without union involvement. The union believes these proposals were addressed in the NLRB settlement the two sides recently agreed upon, and should be withdrawn. CUNA Mutual says the union presented no new wage or health care proposals during the bargaining sessions, and that the proposals will be likely changed, but the union did not offer any input. “The union’s complaint is that the company failed to make changes in its own proposals without bargaining. That is something the company has agreed it will not do. Bargaining will continue. The company tried to schedule additional sessions for this week and the union did not agree to meet,” said CUNA Mutual spokesperson Rick Uhlmann. The two sides were able to reach tentative agreements on three issues: seniority, tuition reimbursement and definitions (basic language for standard things such as employer and employee). According to the union, this is not much towards progress because the two sides had few disagreements in these areas and they could have been agreed upon months ago. Union leaders are also somewhat miffed the company did not schedule a meet and greet with new CEO Post, as it says has been tradition when a new CEO arrives. Some union officials did get to meet Post however during a chance meeting at the company’s headquarters on Feb. 4. In another twist to the labor dispute, at press time the union was preparing thousands of Valentine’s Day post cards for union employees to mail to Burd. One union leader said he expects her to get at least 1,500 cards. The union purchased the cards, but it will be up to the employees to pay for the postage. The union says there is no wisecracking or ill-will meant by the cards; they will have a positive message of asking Burd and the board to “open their hearts” and make strides to settling the contract. Peterson said the union is modeling its card effort on credit unions’ Valentine’s Day card barrage during H.R. 1151. Union leaders said employees will likely do something similar for new CEO Jeff Post, though it is up to the employees how they want to communicate with him, whereas cards were purchased for the Burd effort. [email protected]

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