OPEIU Protests Boilermakers National Funds to Preserve Union Jobs
February 23, 2011
By Vanessa DeSantis
When a union considers outsourcing work at the expense of other union members, maybe some reevaluation is in order. That’s why members of the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) braved the cold on the morning of February 17th to protest a proposal by the Boilermakers National Funds to outsource union jobs to CIGNA.
For decades the Boilermakers has had its own staff process benefits claims for its members at its headquarters in Kansas City. Those office workers are members of Local 320 OPEIU. Now the Boilermakers board is considering outsourcing this work to CIGNA, a mostly non-union company. The protests took place right outside of two of CIGNA’s offices: one in Moosic, Pennsylvania where CIGNA processes its health claims and another in Jersey City, New Jersey, where CIGNA has its headquarters. If the Boilermakers see this through up to 80 Local 320 members will immediately lose their jobs. The Boilermakers currently employ a total of 120 members of Local 320. OPEIU officials worry that all 120 office workers will
eventually lose their jobs.
“This protests condemns CIGNA for its participation in the elimination of good paying union jobs in Kansas City,” said OPEIU President, Michael Goodwin.
The protestors also hope to bring attention to CIGNA’s non-union practices, practices that raise questions given CIGNA’s many union customers. That’s because CIGNA services more than 225 Taft-Hartley funds with more than 1.4 million union members in almost every union trade. Goodwin believes that union workers would be shocked and “appalled to learn that their hard-earned dollars are being used to pay non-union workers.” Though Trustees of the Boilermakers have not yet made their final decision, the next trustee meetings are scheduled for March and June of this year.
In the meantime Local 320 is calling on the Trustees to live up to their obligation to not just manage funds in a prudent manner but to protect and preserve union jobs. “These jobs must not be contracted out to a non-union company. The trustees must come up with different solution,” Goodwin said.