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TruStage workers suspend strike in Madison after reaching tentative agreement on key issues

Deal would increase job security, formalize remote work options

Union workers strike outside CUNA Mutual in Madison.
Members represented by the Office and Professional Employees International Union strike outside the headquarters of Madison-based CUNA Mutual Group on Friday, May 19, 2023 amid a contract dispute with the company. Sarah Lehr/WPR

The union representing hundreds of TruStage workers in Madison called off a strike Monday after a tentative agreement on some key issues was reached with the company.

The strike — which lasted more than two weeks — began amid a contract dispute concerning health care, retirement plans, remote work and job security.

The Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 39, or OPEIU39, is representing the workers, who have been without a contract with the Madison-based insurance company for the last 15 months.

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Joe Evica, the union’s chief steward, said members met Friday and decided to suspend the strike after agreements on remote work and job security were reached.

“As long as we’re continuing to make, and the employer is continuing to make, progress over the remaining issues, our membership felt comfortable returning to work,” Evica said Monday.

Under the agreement, TruStage — formerly known as CUNA Mutual Group — agreed on remote work language that would bar the company from calling workers back into the office without a specific reason. The company would also have to provide the union information on temporary contracts and provide preferential hiring to union employees receiving layoff notices.

Despite the strike’s suspension, negotiations are still underway for pensions, wages and health care, Evica said. If at any point those stall, or the agreement falls through, members voted to authorize another strike within 30 days.

“Suspending the strike doesn’t mean that our campaign for a fair contract is over. And workers are still very involved and adamant about receiving a contract that reflects the value that we’ve created for our company,” Evica said. “So if TruStage thinks that returning to work means that we’re done, then they’re very wrong.”

TruStage told Wisconsin Public Radio in an email that the company is “determined to reach an agreement that is fair, market competitive and meets the needs of our employees, customers and company.”

“From the start, we have bargained in good faith to come to an agreement. We are encouraged by the progress we’ve made over the last few weeks,” TruStage spokesperson Barclay Pollak wrote. “The two sides met on Friday and have additional meetings set to continue negotiating. As a result of our strong business resiliency plans, TruStage has been able to provide uninterrupted service to our customers as we continue to bargain.”

OPEIU39 represents about 450 union members employed at TruStage. The company is one of Madison’s largest private sector employers, with about 1,700 workers based in Madison and more than 4,200 workers total.

Editor’s note: This story was updated to reflect that there was a tentative agreement on some contract issues while negotiations on other issues are ongoing.

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