By Steve Share from the Minneapolis Labor Review:
Workers at all branches of TruStone Financial Credit Union will be back in the bargaining unit represented by Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 12, thanks to a settlement between the employer and the union.
The settlement, effective Feb. 1, ends a dispute that began in 2015. Before the dispute, OPEIU Local 12 represented about 100 workers at TruStone’s corporate headquarters and six branch locations.
TruStone notified OPEIU Local 12 in summer of 2015 that the credit union would close its Golden Valley and Apple Valley locations and open two new branch offices nearby. TruStone said the Golden Valley and Apple Valley union employees could apply to transfer to another bargaining unit location or apply for a job at the “new” facilities, which the credit union declared would be non-union.
OPEIU Local 12 filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board.
In April of 2016, an administrative law judge for the National Labor Relations Board in Washington, D.C. ruled that TruStone’s actions violated federal labor law. The NLRB’s April 13, 2016, decision cited previous precedents and the facts of the case and declared, “an employer must apply an existing collective-bargaining agreement to a relocated facility if the operations at the new facility are substantially the same as those at the old facility…”
The NLRB judge ruled that TruStone’s claim that the relocated branch offices were “new” facilities was a “faulty semantic construct.”
To remedy TruStone’s unlawful actions, the NLRB judge ordered TruStone must apply its collective bargaining agreement with OPEIU Local 12 to the two relocated branch offices.
The credit union appealed the April 2016 ruling, however, and the months dragged on with no final resolution.
“Our case was in Washington for review and then the employer approached us for a settlement,” Traci Murphy, Local 12 union representative, reported January 19. “The settlement has the approval of the NLRB.”
She added: “we’re pleased with the settlement.”
Murphy said she didn’t know why the credit union decided to seek a settlement, but she did relate that Local 12 and TruStone successfully negotiated a new two-year contract for the bargaining unit which runs through September 2018.
TruStone had offered a cheaper health insurance package at the relocated branch locations to lure workers away from the bargaining unit, she said, but now the entire bargaining unit will get that insurance package. “That’s definitely a contract victory for us,” she said.
“The NLRB process and how it worked definitely worked in our favor,” Murphy commented. “It’s been a long haul, that’s for sure.”
TruStone was founded in 1939 as the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers Credit Union. Over the years, the credit union changed its name and broadened its membership base. Local 12’s Murphy said few if any teachers remain on the credit union’s board.