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MADISON, Wis. – As part of its three-year plan to make the company more efficient and focused on the product areas that make sense for its credit union clients, CUNA Mutual announced that it is laying off 145 back-office employees in its Madison headquarters and 38 at its Waverly, Iowa office. Back in October, CUNA Mutual announced approximately 60 layoffs of back-office employees, and weeks prior to that closed down its mortgage operation, resulting in the loss of approximately 175 jobs. “The entire company is under evaluation to determine strengths and weaknesses. These are pretty significant changes. This company has never faced the competition challenge it is facing today in the marketplace,” said company spokesperson Rick Uhlmann. The cuts are part of CEO Jeff Post’s three-year plan to refocus the company. Post has said all areas of the company will be evaluated. He described the most recent layoffs as “difficult and necessary.” Uhlmann said CUNA Mutual’s credit union clients are demanding changes. “They’ve told us we’re bureaucratic, hard to do business with. We’re responding.” Areas of the company affected by the latest round of layoffs include food service, documents, facilities, grounds, interior design, marketing and printing. The work will be transferred to local vendors. CUNA Mutual said it has put a freeze on hiring in an effort to redeploy displaced employees into other positions. It will also provide career training and retirement and career consulting services. Displaced employees will receive a severance package, which was reworked in the collective bargaining agreement signed earlier this year. Leaders of the company’s union, Office of Professional Employees International Union Local 39, hope the restructuring will make the company more competitive. “He [Post] is doing what he said he was going to do. He’s looking at the back-office operations. We’re trusting that he believes it has to be done and it will work,” said John Peterson, local business manager for OPEIU Local 39. Peterson questioned however if the company is applying the same efficiency barometer to management positions. “I haven’t seen any comparable cuts in management where they are bloated,” said Peterson. According to CUNA Mutual the cuts breakdown like this: of the 420 employees affected this fall, 155 are union represented, and 265 are non-union/management. Of those 265, 35 hold supervisory positions, or are “people managers.” The union empowered CUNA Mutual to make more staffing changes by giving up its right to contest any company action to transfer, outsource or transfer jobs in the latest collective bargaining agreement. The two sides went through a bitter labor dispute before finally reaching an agreement that saw the union concede on outsourcing and the company concede on salaries and benefits. “Our president did what he felt he had to do to get a contract. At the time of the contract, the company did not tell us it had any of these plans,” said Peterson. When asked if he was excited about the prospect of the downsizings making CUNA Mutual more competitive for the future, Peterson said his experience is that outsourced workers never do as good a job as in-house employees, so he’s concerned about work quality. “We do expect to generate significant expense savings that we can reinvest in our core businesses. The higher objective is to better invest our people and financial resources in more effectively meeting the changing needs of our credit union customers,” said Uhlmann. As for the severance package, on the salary side, displaced employees get two weeks pay for every year of service, with a one-year maximum. Insurance runs for as long as the severance period. There’s also a bridging provision that could help someone close to retirement get their full retirement package. CUNA Mutual also has its `Magic 85′ program, meaning an employee can retire with full benefits if they are at least 50 years old and their age and work experience adds up to at least 85. Peterson said many of the displaced union employees are in their 40s and have between 15-20 years of tenure. He said four married couples, in which both spouses work for CUNA Mutual, were laid off. -pgenti[email protected]

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