TruStone Financial has opened two new suburban branches in the last three months, but the credit union isn’t just upgrading its facilities. Workers accuse TruStone of using the relocation process as an opportunity to splinter their union.
TruStone opened a new branch in Burnsville last Monday, two days after shuttering its nearby Apple Valley location, where tellers, personal bankers, loan assistants and other employees were members of Office and Professional Employees Local 12.
Many of those employees now work at the Burnsville location, but according to TruStone, they’re no longer covered by Local 12’s contract.
A similar scenario played out in August with branches in the Golden Valley-Plymouth area.
OPEIU Local 12’s Traci Murphy said TruStone made a “unilateral decision” to exclude workers at the new branches from the collective bargaining agreement – a decision that violates federal labor law, the union alleges in a complaint filed with the National Labor Relations Board last week.
“We have had no attempts from our members to decertify the union or anything like that,” Murphy said. “TruStone is not bargaining in good faith – they haven’t been for a while – and they’re taking any opportunity they can to weaken the union whenever they see a chance.”
The allegations come as something of a surprise, considering TruStone’s membership base – people who work in education – includes thousands of union members and retirees.
TruStone was chartered in 1939 as the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers Credit Union, and it became Teacher Federal Credit Union in 1988. According to its website, TruStone “welcomes members who work in, or are associated with, the education community,” in addition to “other groups near our branch locations.”
Local 12 has represented TruStone employees since 1979. The credit union, in fact, initiated the organizing process, according to Murphy, “because it was the teachers’ credit union and, as union members, they wanted to have interaction with employees who were also union members.”
In a written statement, TruStone said management “respects and has a long, positive working relationship with OPEIU Local 12” but disagrees with the local’s allegations, adding that it remains “the only teacher-based credit union in Minnesota with union employees.”
As the NLRB process drags on, Local 12 anticipates TruStone will continue the practice of closing union branches and opening non-union branches nearby – unless the credit union’s members push back.
Already, at least one teachers union, the St. Paul Federation of Teachers Local 28, has made members aware of Local 12’s allegations.
SPFT President Denise Rodriguez said she raised the issue at a membership meeting this fall. Local 28 does its banking through TruStone, and Rodriguez said leadership would continue to monitor the dispute.
“I definitely take it seriously when we have fellow union brothers and sisters come to us with concerns that there’s anti-union stuff going on at a place teachers are doing business with,” Rodriguez said. “I want members to have the information they need to make an informed decision if they want to continue to bank with TruStone.”