Support South Slope employees

The Gazette Opinion Staff
Published: January 10 2014 | 12:01 am - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 1:52 am in
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By Rick Moyle

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I write to ask for your help in supporting the employees at South Slope Cooperative Communications in North Liberty.

South Slope is a member-owned cooperative governed by a board of directors. As a non-profit, a co-op is supposed to reinvest its earning in service upgrades, skilled workers or member dividends — not siphon them off for the benefit of outside investors or overpaid CEOs.

For decades, South Slope has been known to bargain in good faith with its employees who are known for providing top-notch service. But new management appears to be trying to change this.

After reviewing the South Slope 990 tax forms that anyone can look at due to South Slope’s status as a not-for-profit co-op, we find that the CEO’s pay from 2011 to 2012 increased $ 38,091. Meanwhile, the CEO received additional compensation from the organization or other originations of $49,297 in 2012. The additional compensation is up $10,636 from 2011.

The total amount of CEO compensation for 2012 was $274,760. The other seven members of the board received $51,880 total combined.

This information is important because South Slope management proposed a two-tier pay structure that cuts wages by 30 percent (as much as $8 per hour for new hires or current employees who transfer to new positions).

This means that future workers will always receive less pay then their peers doing the same job.

When workers voted against these cuts in bargaining (to protect future employees and some current employees), management locked them out for a day when the contract expired on Nov. 1, 2013. Then, rather than continuing to bargain, management brought workers back and unilaterally imposed the South Slope final offer.

Management’s final offer also eliminates union dues deductions — a common tactic used to bust unions. Communications Workers of America has filed charges against South Slope with the National Labor Relations Board for bad faith bargaining and what the union considers to be the unwarranted suspension of a union supporter.

The current CEO and the entire board at South Slope should be ashamed of themselves. The member-owned cooperative is exactly that: member owned, not CEO, or board owned.

I believe board elections take place on April 9, and I am sure that the members of South Slope will certainly remember how the South Slope workers were treated when it comes to election time.

Please take the time to contact South Slope’s board members to let them know that this is not how we treat working families in our communities. And we will no longer stand by and watch working families be mistreated.

Rick Moyle is executive director of Hawkeye Labor Council AFL-CIO, Cedar Rapids. Comments: rmoyle@hawkeyelabor.us

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