TruStage Union FAQ

This FAQ has been developed by TruStage Union employees represented by OPEIU Local 39.

The purpose of this page is to share facts and information surrounding collective bargaining negotiations with other TruStage employees. It is the intention of TruStage employees and our union to reach a fair contract agreement with our Employer as quickly as possible. In the meantime, we will be publishing these FAQ documents as a means to help inform TruStage employees of what’s going on.

Answers current as of November 13, 2023

1. What are Union TruStage employees asking for in a new labor agreement?

TruStage has made record profits the last several years. In the past three years alone, TruStage has made more than $1 billion dollars in net profit. Union members believe that all employees at TruStage (including managers and contractors) deserve:

  • Wages that keep up with inflation (No cuts to anyone’s standard of living)
  • Retroactive pay increases - Union employees have not received a pay increase since April of 2021.
  • No cuts to pension benefits - TruStage is proposing to freeze the plan for new-hires
  • Quality and affordable health insurance for all employees.

2. I heard that the TruStage bargaining team is already offering wages that keep up with inflation. Is that true?

Union employees at TruStage have not received a pay increase since April 1st, 2021 - about two and a half years ago. Since that time, inflation (according to the CPI-W) has increased by more than 16%. TruStage is currently offering a wage increase of 10.5%, effective on the day an agreement is reached. This equates to more than a 5% cut to an employee’s standard of living.

Additionally, their proposal includes no back pay for the year and a half that our contract has been expired. This amounts to an average loss of more than $13,000 per employee. No employee at TruStage should be expected to experience cuts to our standard of living while the company is performing so successfully.

3. Is the Union refusing to bargain over freezing the pension plan?

The TruStage bargaining team has proposed to freeze the pension plan for all new-hire employees, effective 90 days after reaching an agreement. This proposal would amount to about a 5% cut to an employee’s total compensation, and nearly a 50% reduction in Employer retirement contributions for new hires. Their team has not presented any financial justification for this proposal.

Our Union’s bargaining team has proposed several financial alternatives to the pension plan which are meant to be cost-neutral. These proposals would allow TruStage to freeze the pension plan for new hires without financially harming employees. TruStage has rejected each of these proposals.

4. Is the Union bargaining team out of touch with membership?

Hundreds of Union members were polled about TruStage’s most recent proposal. More than 90% of members polled rejected the Employer’s current contract proposal.

Our Union bargaining team is made up primarily of employees of TruStage and receives feedback on a weekly basis from members. Our bargaining team sends out regular updates to members via email, hosts weekly town hall sessions to answer questions and provide information, surveys members on all aspects of wages, benefits, and working conditions, and has built several committees dedicated to engaging membership.

5. What sort of public support have we received for our campaign for a fair contract?

Many credit unions who utilize TruStage’s products have voiced their support and the positive response from the public has been broad and unwavering. We have received resolutions of support from the Dane County Board of Supervisors and the City of Madison Common Council. Both local and national labor unions have expressed solidarity with our cause. The NAACP continues to be a staunch supporter as do many elected government officials including: U.S. Congressman Mark Pocan, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, State Representative Lisa Subeck, State Senator Melissa Agard, State Representative Francesca Hong, State Senator Dianne Hesselbein.

6. Why is this process taking so long?

It has become apparent to our members that the leaders at TruStage are not interested in bargaining a fair contract for the workers who make their business run. TruStage has stalled negotiations in order to demoralize our membership in the hopes they might accept a less-than-fair contract. Additionally, it is clear the decision makers for TruStage aren't even at the bargaining table, which has prevented substantive movement from occurring during our infrequent bargaining sessions.

When he took office on October 1, 2023, TruStage CEO Terrance Williams squandered a once-in-a-career opportunity to unite our workforce by authorizing the company to negotiate a fair and equitable contract for represented workers. Williams instead chose to maintain outgoing CEO Bob Trunzo’s strategy of union busting and anti-labor action. Williams has emphasized his alignment with the company’s bargaining strategy on multiple occasions.

7. Is the Union refusing to compromise? How much movement has either side made?

TruStage has made minimal financial movement towards the union in negotiations thus far, while the Union has made many good faith compromises in the hopes of obtaining a fair contract. Our membership has made it clear what our priorities are, and we are not willing to compromise to the point that we wind up with a contract that doesn’t meet our basic needs.

8. Has the Union ever canceled bargaining dates?

The Union has never canceled a single bargaining session. The Employer, however, has canceled multiple times; sometimes with only hours’ notice.

9. How often are the parties meeting?

On average, the parties are meeting about twice per month which is less than the Union feels is ideal, but the Employer refuses to offer more regular availability.

The parties are currently engaged in mediation, wherein a neutral third party hosts sessions with the intention of arriving at a solution to which both sides can agree.

The mediator’s availability impacts the frequency of mediation sessions, however, the parties are encouraged to meet outside of mediation as a way of maintaining momentum and arriving at a solution more quickly. Unfortunately, the Employer refuses to meet with the Union outside of mediation. The Union suspects the Employer is using mediation to further stall negotiations.

10. What is mediation?

The Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service is a Federal service which provides a 3rd party neutral mediator to act as a go-between the Union and Company to help foster and encourage negotiations.

Federal mediation comes with restrictions on what information can be shared publicly outside of the bargaining/mediation sessions; this results in reduced transparency for those not directly engaged in the bargaining process.

11. Why isn’t the company’s proposal satisfactory to the Union?

The company’s proposal doesn’t adequately address the basic needs of TruStage workers.This is unconscionable when, year after year, the company is making record profits. The company has not offered wages that keep up with inflation, meaning workers would take a yearly pay cut to continue working for TruStage. The company wants to freeze the pension plan for new hires without offering anything to compensate for the cut to employees’ compensation packages. The company refuses to offer retroactive pay going back to the beginning of negotiations. This means that employees have not received a cost of living raise since April, 2021, despite working diligently to earn TruStage its record profits.

12. Why is retroactive pay so important?

Union members have gone without cost-of-living raises since April 1, 2021, during which time, inflation has skyrocketed. Members who were getting by in 2021 are now struggling to keep up with the cost of meeting their basic needs like rent, food, medical bills, loan payments, etc.

The union refuses to reward the company’s delay tactics, maintaining its commitment to full retroactive pay. This is money that has been unfairly kept from workers while TruStage deliberately drags it heels in negotiations for going on two years.

13. Why is the pension so important to members? Isn’t it rare for a pension to be included in a modern benefits package?

The pension plan is one of the few things that TruStage offers which sets it apart from other employers in their attempt to attract talent. Given the below-market wages that TruStage pays, our membership relies on the pension plan to save for retirement at a reasonable age.

We do not believe that a two-tier system should be created where some of our members have this support towards their retirement goals and others don't.

The Union has offered several proposals which open the door to removing the pension for new hires, such as an equal-to-pension additional contribution to their 401k plan, but TruStage has offered no reasonable proposals in exchange for the pension.

14. Why does TruStage want to eliminate the pension for new hires?

The company uses the language of “modernization” to describe the elimination of our pension plan, which is meant to distract from the fact that their aim is simply to strip existing benefits for workers. Non-represented employees have already had their pensions eliminated in recent years.

Eliminating the pension for new hires would create a two-tier system where one group of workers has different benefits from the other. This is unnecessary, because the group of workers that retain the pension will decline naturally over time through attrition, thus enabling TruStage to eliminate it for all workers entirely.

15. I’ve heard something about TruStage’s use of contractors. What’s the big deal?

The company has been hiding the use of contractors and the number of contractors it hires for many years. They are required to provide details to the union about each contractor, what their responsibilities are, and how long they’ve been performing work for the company. The list provided by TruStage consistently hovers around 40 names while we see hundreds of contractors attend department-wide and company-wide meetings. Additionally, hundreds of union members work side-by-side with contractors who have performed the same work as our members for multiple years. These contractors have never been reported to the union on the list supplied by TruStage.

Our contract stipulates that contractors be hired for limited-time work (no longer than 12 months). Many contractors have worked for TruStage for years and are doing the same work as full-time employees. That is in violation of our contract with the company and prevents union growth because contractors fill what are clearly long-term positions.

Many of us work closely with contractors and they're our coworkers and teammates, too. We want to continue to work with them, but when they hold long-term positions at the company, they should be brought into the union and have the same rights and benefits as we do.

16. Is TruStage abandoning the credit union movement?

Over the past several years, TruStage has made several moves that signal that the credit union movement is no longer its main priority. What started with reorganizing from a mutual company to a mutual holding company in 2012 has continued with rebranding and ignoring calls from our credit union members asking the company to do the right thing by settling this contract dispute in a fair way.

17. TruStage says that 9 out of 10 Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges have been withdrawn or dismissed by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). What’s going on with that?

The union has filed a total ten charges during negotiations, but one was folded into another, so there have really only been nine charges total.

One ULP remains open and pending at the regional level.

The NLRB ruled that TruStage was in violation of labor law on withholding information regarding employee bonuses. This ULP was dismissed once TruStage turned over the information as required by law and the NLRB.

Three ULPs are still pending appeal at the federal level, and we asked them to issue a dismissal at the regional level so we could start the appeal process nationally.

Had the NLRB found merit in the four ULPs related to refusal to bargain, etc., the result would have been that the TruStage bargaining team would have been forced back to the table. While we contend that TruStage did illegally refuse to bargain with us for months, they returned to the table prior to the NLRB’s ruling so a ruling wouldn’t have resulted in any meaningful change in the bargaining process. Therefore, we withdrew those charges to focus our resources on other outstanding ULPs.

For full details directly from the NLRB, please see their list of cases for TruStage here:

18. Why is the Union fighting for this contract so hard? What makes this contract different?

The reason we’re fighting so hard for a fair contract now is because TruStage has never been more profitable. Over the last 20 years, the company has told the Union that we need to tighten our belts because things are tough right now, and we have made significant sacrifices for the company. We have given the company the benefit of the doubt for a very long time. It is time for them to step up and pay us what we’re worth. If this is how they treat us when times are good, how will they behave when times are tough?

19. Was the company acting in good faith when they said they didn’t think negotiations were going to be concessionary?

Based on how negotiations have gone so far, apparently not.

20. Are raises and bonuses really on hiatus during bargaining?

Many managers have been denied raise requests for their direct reports. This is a union busting tactic used by the company to sow confusion and resentment toward the union. The union is not responsible for these blockages. While we negotiate a new contract, the old one is still in effect. Section R of the contract allows managers to provide discretionary raises and bonuses to workers.

21. Former Chief Steward Joe Evica was fired in April 2023. Is the union's bargaining team holding up contract negotiations contingent on his reinstatement?

Joe Evica’s reinstatement is unequivocally NOT what is holding up the bargaining process. The Union wholeheartedly supports Joe and has filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge with the NLRB that is now in the appeals process. Joe’s reinstatement is one of a number of negotiable topics that has not yet been resolved.

22. Why is the union running ads and doing other things to hurt the company's reputation?

The company is hurting its own reputation by doing unethical and illegal things during contract bargaining. We want the company to stop doing these things, not only because it affects us directly as union members and TruStage employees, but also because the company's behavior goes against its core corporate values. We're calling out this behavior publicly because when these concerns are raised internally, Labor Relations immediately directs us back to our union leadership, who are then subsequently ignored by Labor Relations.

Our union wants TruStage to continue to be successful, and we strongly believe that that can't happen until the company "lives" its values.

23. When was the company's last written proposal?

August 2, 2023.

24. When was the union's last written proposal?

August 22, 2023.

25. Can you provide an overall timeline of events?

February 2022 - Bargaining begins. The union polled membership on top priorities: Wages that keep up with inflation, job security, remote work protections, fair retirement benefits, and access to quality and affordable healthcare.

March 31, 2022 - Contract expires

April 30, 2022 - First informational picket outside corporate headquarters in Madison

May 20, 2022 - Second informational picket outside corporate headquarters in Madison

July 9, 2022 - Third informational picket outside corporate headquarters in Madison

August 15, 2022 - Picket of Board of Directors meeting in Madison

January - May 2023 - Company refuses to meet with the union bargaining team

March 16, 2023 - Dane County Board of Supervisors passes RES-371 - “Supporting Bargaining Between OPEIU Local 39 and CUNA Mutual Group” 24-1

March 21, 2023 - Madison City Council passes Item 138 - “Supporting Bargaining Between OPEIU Local 39 and CUNA Mutual Group” unanimously

April 2023 - Firing of Chief Steward Joe Evica

April 24, 2023 - Press conference announcing 92% ULP strike authorization vote

May 6, 2023 - Strike-ready rally at the Wisconsin State Capitol

May 10, 2023 - Mediation begins

May 16, 2023 - Community members attempt to deliver a letter to TruStage leadership, are barred from doing so by company security

May 19, 2023 - ULP strike begins

June 5, 2023 - ULP strike ends

July 29, 2023 - Rally for a fair contract at the Wisconsin State Capitol

August 2, 2023 - last Employer proposal - over 90% members vote that they would not accept

August 22, 2023 - last Union proposal

September 5, 2023 - Parties enter “supposal” phase of negotiations (informal, off-the-record discussion around remaining priorities, meant to spur discussion)

November 4, 2023 - Union solidarity rally at the Wisconsin State Capitol

As of now, the company still has not adequately addressed 3 top priorities identified by members at the beginning of 2022

26. I heard that the union was asking for a 50% raise. Is that true?

Absolutely not. The Union’s proposed wage increases are meant to keep pace with inflation so that workers can afford the cost of living.

27. TruStage claims that they're providing market-value wages in their proposals - are union members being unreasonable in what they are asking?

According to market trends, the wage increases that TruStage are offering fall short of market value.

We've heard from some union members that their managers have had difficulty hiring people into union positions, because the offer package is too low. In order to hire and retain top talent, TruStage needs to offer more.