Hands off Joe! Stop Retaliation Against OPEIU 39 Chief Steward Joe Evica

Bob Trunzo (CEO); Jim Denholm (VP of Human Resources); Ashley Utz (VP of Human Resources)

On Tuesday, March 14, OPEIU 39 Chief Steward and CUNA Mutual Group employee Joe Evica was informed that he had been put on paid suspension pending an investigation into “disclosure of company information”. The message is clear: this is retaliation for Joe’s union activity, his role as a leader on the bargaining committee and in the union, and his effectiveness at organizing a collective response to management’s bad faith bargaining tactics.

Contract renegotiations between the union and the employer have stalled due to the employer’s refusal to bargain in good faith. Joe, as well as many other workplace leaders, have been meeting with union members and engaging in protected collective action to win a fair contract.

The timing of this disciplinary action against Joe is suspicious, to say the least.

Management has unilaterally decided to investigate Joe’s work laptop with “forensic specialists” as part of this disciplinary action. The charges against Joe have been extremely vague and contradict the necessary role Joe plays as a steward and member of the union bargaining team. This suggests that the purpose of seizing Joe’s laptop is to either go looking for chargeable offenses where none currently exist, or to spy on his Union activity. Joe’s laptop contains dozens of communications with union members and that information needs to remain protected. The union has asked HR to retain an independent monitor to keep possession of the laptop and be present during their investigation to ensure that this opportunity is not used by the company to snoop on protected union activity.

Management needs to drop this investigation immediately and let Joe get back to work. CMG management has been deliberately evasive about what Joe has supposedly done wrong, while they have retained the services of notorious anti-union firm Ogletree Deakins. If the investigation proceeds, management needs to agree to neutral oversight that has the confidence of both the company and Union. After all, if they aren’t in Joe’s laptop to spy on union activity, then they should have no problem agreeing to an independent monitor.

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To: Bob Trunzo (CEO); Jim Denholm (VP of Human Resources); Ashley Utz (VP of Human Resources)
From: [Your Name]

It has come to our attention that Chief Steward Joe Evica has recently been placed on paid suspension pending investigation. This disciplinary action of an elected Union leader is clear retaliation for Mr. Evica’s activities and role on the Union’s bargaining committee. It is no coincidence that this suspension and investigation come following the Union’s own meetings regarding contract action and its political activity with the Dane County Board and City of Madison Common Council, to which Mr. Evica has been crucial. It is our view that this investigation is illegitimate and intended to punish Mr. Evica and intimidate the Union.

We are hereby requesting:

1. Immediate cessation of retaliatory tactics and unlawful discipline towards Joe Evica and other Union leaders during the bargaining process.

2. The Employer must confine their investigation to the specific information related to this charge, and not go on a fishing expedition to invent new charges or spy on employees’ protected Union activity.

3. That the Employer agrees to a neutral, independent monitor, to oversee all aspects of the analysis of the Chief Stewards communications. Mr. Evica’s work laptop must be immediately turned over to this neutral monitor for the duration of the investigation.

4. Return to the bargaining table. CUNA Mutual Group must provide bargaining dates to be held as soon as possible and engage in good faith bargaining with the Union.

Hands off Joe! Fair contract now!