Support for CUNA workers

Workers from CUNA Mutual in Madison (OPEIU Local 39) are preparing to go on strike tomorrow, May 19. In support of the workers, the WUU Executive Committee wrote the following letter to CEO Robert Trunzo and the CUNA Board of Directors, and will contribute $500 to the OPEIU Strike Fund.

Dear Robert Trunzo and the CUNA Mutual Group Board of Directors,

We write in support of OPEIU Local 39 and urge you to meet them at the bargaining table and negotiate in good faith. We are deeply troubled by the recent firing of Chief Steward Joe Evica and by CUNA Mutual Group/TruStage (CMFG)’s pattern of dismantling career-oriented, long term jobs for people in the Madison Community.

CMFG workers are not just fighting for a fair contract; they are fighting for good union jobs to remain in Wisconsin. Their struggle impacts all of us as workers and community members. Wages that keep up with inflation, quality and affordable healthcare for remote-out-of-state employees, a uniform pension plan, job security/protections, and pay equity reviews to ensure transparency are not luxuries. They are basic rights that all working people deserve. It is disappointing that CMFG would break the law and fire a good worker as retaliation for union activity rather than invest in Madison families.

Workers should not have to authorize an Unfair Labor Practices strike to be heard. You have a legal obligation to meet your employees at the bargaining table as equals. They have been patiently waiting for over 400 days. We urge you to settle a fair contract now.

Wisconsin University Union Executive Committee

Paid family leave

WUU enthusiastically endorses the Paid Family Leave resolution that will be considered by the UW-Madison Faculty Senate on 6 March 2023 and by the Academic Staff Assembly on 13 March.

The resolution brings important attention to a June, 2022, report from an ad hoc Working Group on Family Leave for UW-Madison Employees. That report provides a detailed summary of the many gaps and inconsistencies in current policies at UW-Madison, the value and public support for paid family leave, for recruitment competitiveness and for equity in the workplace.

The report’s strong recommendations include: “Provide for all employees to receive at least six weeks of fully paid leave after a birth, adoption, or foster placement, separate from other paid leave benefits…[and establish] a timeline for phased increases over a period of two to three bienniums to a range of 8-12 weeks of fully paid leave.”

June 2022 report on Family Leave

An ad hoc Working Group on Family Leave for UW-Madison Employees completed an important report on family leave, with detailed research and recommendations. The report has not been widely distributed or publicized but deserves careful study.

The Family Leave Working Group was formed in December, 2016, by Provost Sarah Mangelsdorf, to make recommendations on family leave for university employees, following a separate effort arranged by the University Committee that focused on family leave for tenure-track faculty.

The report, completed in June, 2022, includes detailed research on the state of family leave at UW-Madison and peer institutions. All but one of our peer universities provides paid parental leave.

The report makes a number of important recommendations, including that UW-Madison provide up to 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid parental leave to all employees starting at the beginning of their appointment, and provide at least six weeks of fully paid leave after a birth, adoption, or foster placement, separate from other paid leave benefits (such as vacation and sick leave).

Beck-Elder Awards Call for Proposals

Support Types: research/outreach projects; assistance with member’s legal fees

Budget: up to $5000. Note that awards are made directly to individuals or organizations.

Process: submit a 1-2 page proposal as described in this pdf, followed by a short interview for the finalists (see attachment for details).

Timeline for assistance with member’s legal fees: ongoing

Timeline for research/outreach projects

  • Submission by: February 1, 2023
  • First round evaluation by: March 1
  • Presentations: Week of March 15
  • Final determination: March 31

Subsequent rounds of proposals will follow.

Funding Priorities (in no particular order of importance):

  • Support of shared governance at UW-Madison
  • Ensure equality under due process at UW-Madison
  • Promote labor and employment rights of faculty and staff at UW-Madison
  • Promote diversity, equity and inclusion in employment at the UW-Madison
  • Legal counsel for individuals or groups of individuals at UW-Madison

WUU is an independent association of faculty and academic staff at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. We promote the values of our members in the activity and organization of this campus.  Our core values reflect a commitment to democracy – an order of free and equal persons who determine the conditions of their own association. WUU has a long history of supporting University faculty and staff members who find themselves in conflict with their employer.

CO2 monitor lending library

WUU is excited to contribute towards a lending library of carbon dioxide monitors to assess air quality on campus.

With the elimination of the campus mask mandate last March, there are important concerns about air quality and ventilation in classrooms and other spaces at UW-Madison. Air quality is an important factor in the spread of airborne diseases such as COVID-19. Campus administration has not been forthcoming about efforts to assess or improve air quality. The Facilities HVAC FAQ is particularly disappointing as it discourages any efforts to assess air quality, improve air ventilation, or filter air in university spaces.

A group of campus workers and community members has designed a low-cost CO2 monitor and are seeking to lend them out to the campus community, to assess air ventilation in classrooms and other campus spaces. They have 18 CO2 monitors available for use; WUU has contributed funds for 10 of them.

Hand-made CO2 monitor built with a $40 CO2 sensor, a $10 microcontroller, a $5 LCD display, and a 50 cent plastic box.

If you are interested in borrowing one of these monitors, submit a request via this form:

COVID-19 Posters

WUU is proud to announce its new COVID-19 posters, which have begun being placed on bulletin boards around the UW-Madison campus.

Vintage-styled poster with earth surrounded by people holding hands with the text "Let's protect our community", "Get tested", "Use sick days", "Get boosted", "Mask up", and "Strong unions make strong communities"

Designed by local artist Meghan Griffin, the posters are intended to encourage communal action to fight back against the pandemic and help protect the vulnerable members of our community: Mask up, get boosted, stay home when sick, and get tested.

Help spread the word by posting an image of our poster on social media:

Support UW Health Nurses

WUU supports the UW Health nurses’ effort to form a union. UW Health claims that it cannot legally recognize their union, but Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul issued an opinion that UW Health can voluntarily recognize the union. On Wednesday, August 24, the nurses voted to hold a 3-day strike, Sept 13-15, 2002. (See the articles in the Wisconsin State Journal and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.)

Please join us in supporting the UW Health nurses:

Recent violence on and near campus

In response to recent attacks downtown and near campus, WUU denounces and calls for vigilance in investigating and prosecuting all hate crimes against our communities. Everyone in the community is diminished when crimes of hate occur, go unanswered, or are not prosecuted. It is the responsibility of all residents of Wisconsin to actively be, not just anti-racist, but anti-xenophobic, anti-misogynist, anti-agist, anti-homophobic, and anti-transphobic. We ask the Campus and Madison Police Departments, the justice system, and all public officials to be transparent and clear in their communication with the community during and after hate crime investigations. We further encourage all members of the community to actively look for ways to come together to stand against acts of hate and support organizations and community groups who are working to bring financial and mutual aid resources to those who have been most impacted.

(The 1968 federal hate crimes statute made it a crime to use, or threaten to use, force to willfully interfere with any person because of race, color, religion, or national origin and because the person is participating in a federally protected activity, such as public education. In 2009, Congress added new federal protections against crimes based on gender, disability, gender identity, or sexual orientation. Wisconsin law defines a hate crime as intentionally targeting a person or property against whom a crime is committed in whole or in part because of the actor’s belief or perception regarding the race, religion, color, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, or ancestry of that person or the owner or occupant of that property, whether or not the actor’s belief or perception was correct.)