CWA Local 7800

September 2012

Bargaining at CenturyLink has kicked off. We were able to provide sack lunches to everyone in the Seattle area and for the outlying areas; our reps were able to bring in some breakfast sandwiches instead. Most of the members were able to get t-shirts but we still have some we need to get out. If you haven’t received one yet then please contact a Steward or call the Local and we will make arrangements to get one to you. We tried to get most sizes but since we are in the later part of dispersing them, sizes may be somewhat limited. Remember wear these blue shirts on Wednesday and if you can wear the red ones on Thursday, which would be great as well.

The bargaining reports are online and members need a username and password to get access for this. To get these please call the Local so we can verify membership status. You can also register on the Local site to view them but you have to register on the site. We have had a few people try to register with their work email address so we had to remove their access. Remember; PLEASE don’t access these reports from your work computer. You can get into trouble by doing so. So far our members have been very interested in what’s going on and are clearly engaged. I think the big issues moving forward will come down to Retiree Health Care and Contracting. While it does not appear from the reports that either of these have been discussed at any length so far, I can assure you it will be soon.

One item that has not been in the bargaining reports is that the company did propose to do a Letter of Agreement now to offer VSPP. While for our members, the only jobs indicated were in the CIA group, there were other groups in different cities. The proposal also wanted the company to be able to go to any group at their discretion between now and the end of the year and make the same offer. The Bargaining Team called for a meeting with all the Local Presidents to discuss. They shared with us that when the company was asked why, the response was that they wanted to move more employee’s off payroll and send that work to contractors. It is one thing when the company says work has slowed down or some other business need, but something else altogether when they are doing it to save a buck. While I understand some members may be looking for this offer, we can’t continue to let the company send the work to contractors for this reason. We are already grieving the use of contractors in the CIA group, as well as the LPC, and the LRAC, it does not make sense to make it easier and to risk our jobs for Contractors. The Presidents voted unanimously to say no to that proposal.

When Glen Post visited Seattle he was asked about contractors versus employees. He indicated he would prefer employees over contractors, He said for the short term he saw the need for contractors from a cost perspective and sometimes to fill the peaks of the work. I am paraphrasing here but this is basically what he said. (they have a recording online if you want to hear the actual Q&A) …the problem I have is that the company made about 1.7 billion in profit. I just have to ask how much profit would it take to hire employees into the company?

On the outside they made it clear their intent is to contract construction work and nobody has indicated that this is temporary. I don’t believe that is their plan. If it is then they shouldn’t have an issue with language addressing it right? We will see. While Mr. Post was here, the company had already sent an email out that they were bringing in more outside contractors to do I&M work on POTS and DSL work. The company has always maintained that they would not have contractors in customer facing positions but this is clearly a change to that. I will remind folks that the company ran an advertising campaign and ran commercials on television in the Seattle market saying that they “Were hiring your neighbors” since then they have let go hundreds of employees, management and occupational alike. Sure some of those people choose voluntary offers to leave but many more were simply just terminated. That certainly does not sound like they are hiring our neighbors.

We are not dealing with Qwest, who at the time was on the verge of bankruptcy. This company has strong numbers. Yes they have a lot of debt but they did that by acquiring Embark, Qwest, and Savis. They did that to grow the company of CenturyLink. That is great we support that, we want the company to be successful. But that does not mean they will take advantage of the workers who are doing the work that allows them to profit billions of dollars. That is why Mobilization is so important to bargaining. We must show the company like never before that we are united, that for each and every one of us we are all in. We can no longer allow the company to use line loss and revenue from that as an excuse. When Glen was here and laid out his 4 point plan did anyone see POTS lines in the plan? Was it an area the company was going to go after? It was not. So if it’s not in their plan to attain or retain revenue then certainly we don’t need to let them use it as a reason to cut our jobs, or our benefits. I can’t stress enough take part in the mobilizations and do so proudly you are a union member be proud of it. Take advantage of it. Our Local is only as strong as our members. We are in this together. I won’t ask anyone to do anything I am unwilling to do. But we need all of our members to become leaders. All of us need to motivate each other, all of us need to stand up together. We can win this battle, we deserve to win, and we will win.

We have scheduled our first bargaining meeting for our new members with IATSE. We are hopeful these negotiations will go smoothly. These folks all have independent work contracts that read like union contracts so that is a good base for us to begin our work and to ensure the terms are applied equally and consistently. Seniority structure is an issue not addressed and that is one of the main concerns of the workgroup is to establish a fair process in determining scheduling etc… between the different classifications of employees.

In regards to organizing we are talking to a few different groups of people looking to organize their work groups. This is very early on so it’s hard to tell if those folks can garner enough support within the company to move forward but we will report out as progress is made. Craig developed a great flyer regarding organizing and it is a useful tool to share. Feel free to ask for one and share it if you know someone who is non represented and may have questions about organizing their work place.

At MV Transportation we have seen an increase in attendance discipline. We have even seen some people terminated. Sometimes when we get these files, we can see where the employee had been disciplined before but no union representation was present nor were we notified by the company (and they don’t have to) that someone was disciplined and the member did not tell us either. I would again remind members that if you are being disciplined or even questioned about something that could lead to discipline you have a right to have a union Steward present but it is your obligation to request one. If you are disciplined you should also notify a Steward so we can at least investigate the circumstances. We have filed more grievances at MV this year already then we had done all last year. Most are safety point related but like I mentioned before, attendance is becoming a bigger issue. So if in doubt please contact a Steward.

We are putting together a plan to begin an outreach program for the employees at this employer. We intend to start that in late October to mid November. While we have a great core group of people who stay involved and keep us up to date we have a huge amount of folks who we feel we just have not been successful in communicating with. We understand that and are hoping to address it. More details will follow.

Our newly trained Stewards are processing their first grievances and so far appear to have great initiative and understanding of the information needed to present a grievance. We are still working with them and will sit with them during their first actual meetings to assist. Great Job. We were able to get 2 more people appointed to be Stewards at MV but have not had an opportunity to schedule the training for them quite yet. Until they are trained they cannot represent any members.

AT&T Legacy did ratify their contract for our members and as of yet I have not heard of any concerns from our members regarding the contract.

We did participate in the Street Fair this year again and handed out close to 1,500 backpacks. It is always a lot of fun. I want to thank everyone who came out in support of this. There is always so much information for families regarding education choices for their children but also this time they expanded to include job opportunities and other job related information. We decided to have a booth as well to talk with folks about the history of labor and to hand out organizing information. It was a great fun filled informational day.

Applied Professional Training has scheduled another class in the Bell Plaza building. It was supposed to beginthis week but was delayed until the 18th Of September. I think if people hurry you could still get enrolled. The class is Fiber Optic Communications.

On the legislation front we have a great opportunity to volunteer. The Labor council has scheduled phone banks almost every night of the week and they have scheduled two major walks to go knock on doors and encourage them to vote. I always give this disclaimer that many of our members are conservatives and we recognize that and we try not to put one party against the other but at times, and times like this I would encourage folks not to support the conservative party. Their record for the last several years has been quite clear and to put it bluntly they are not supporting the middle class and seem to have complete disregard for women. It is my opinion, but I do realize I speak for this Local and all of our members, but I have to speak about what is best for our membership and currently the conservative party is out to destroy us. The only way that will change is to elect folks who have demonstrated through their values and their votes that they honestly support the middle class and those less fortunate.

We can no longer trust what people say on the campaign trail or at a convention. Facts are facts and there is a number of ways to verify facts. Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and other conservative talkers are not putting forward the truth. Granted some of our liberal folks stretch the truth at times as well but not like these people, they just flat out lie. Bill Clinton said it best in his speech at the DNC Convention “It takes a lot of brass to blame the other guy for something you did”. While he was referring to Paul Ryan and Ryan’s speech at the RNC Convention the same applies to a whole lot of other people.

Our goal during our volunteer time is simply to educate people and encourage them to vote. We don’t insist they vote for one party over another. The bigger picture is to get them to commit to vote. We certainly will provide information on whom the Labor Councils have endorsed and why, but again at the end of the day who someone votes for is a personal choice. We can only educate.

Here in this state the Presidential election aside, we have several races on a state level to choose, our representatives including the Governor, a Senator, and of course the Representatives for the House. I just want to point out that folks may remember the last election for Governor and it took several recounts to declare a winner. Senator Cantwell also won the 2000 election by just over 2,200 votes out of about 2.5 million votes in that election. So again every vote counts and we can’t afford to sit this one out. We have to ensure people mail their ballots.

I personally have committed to do phone banking once a week and participate in the Labor to Neighbor walks on September 15th and again on October 20th. I would encourage other folks to come with me.

So a lot is going on and it helps to have volunteers in one capacity or another. Either with our Local bargaining issues or the election stuff. Please get involved one way or another. We only have a few weeks till the CenturyLink contract expires and 8 weeks to the election.

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