March was a very busy month… We started the month by attending the District 7 meeting in Denver. During the meeting we attended several training sessions one inparticular was about coalition building. The instructor was from New York and while quite brash was rather entertaining but he drove home several points. He started the class by saying CWA had asked him to do the training based on some projects he had worked on for the AFL-CIO and that his goal there was not to build coalitions and that he didn’t set out to build coalitions but more to get the community to take action. He wanted the union left out of it. His point was valid that unfortunately sometimes people will avoid helping unions primarily because they might think the unions can help themselves or they might feel the union workers have too much so don’t need any help or they simply have a bad perception of what unions do. But most people when given an opportunity, encouragement, or see something so wrong they will speak out to help their friends and neighbors. So that was the goal. In many cases what company’s do can devastate whole towns especially smaller towns and so he works on getting that message to the towns people that they don’t have to just sit and let the company do what they want to do if it will ruin the town and lives of their friends, family, neighbors. So is that coalition building or just encouraging others to take charge?
He asked the question about how active are our members in our locals. Who does the most the Officers and Stewards or the Members? In our case I will say it has been very difficult to engage the membership. He then asked why is that? My response to the question and for several others the word that came to mind was apathy. Our members are comfortable and either don’t see that what is going on around them does affect them or since they have a contract and the union is going to fight for a contract that they don’t have to get involved. He educated me why I was wrong. While it may seem the membership is apathetic it should be my role to figure out what interests them. Use that interest to find a common place with their interests and the local goals and use the two together. How can a member get other involvement in their passion while the local benefits, which in turn benefits the membership? While this is simple enough in context getting there does not seem so simple. So my question to our membership is what are your passions? What interests you? What is by using the resources of the local can be a win win for you the community and would also have a tangible benefit to the local? Let’s see if we can work on something together.
We also had training on some other subjects but maybe best to leave that for another day. Truth is while again we learned some important stuff somewhat dry to explain it…
At the District meeting we had 9 candidates that ran to be elected to the Bargaining Committee from the rank and file within the District for the 4 available slots. The folks that were elected are Lisa Avila, Ken Saether, Audrey Deguio, and Kari Moss. 2 of these folks are from the network side of the house and 2 of them are from the business office. They have from 7 years to over 30 years with the company. Ken Saether has been on the Bargaining team before he has experience dealing directly with Centurylink as a union President in Medford Oregon as the President he represents some legacy CenturyLink techs so he understands CenturyLink as well. All in all we are very happy with the outcome of the folks who were elected and know they will put their heart and soul into this.
We have plans to do site visits. The company wants an LOA but have not produced on as of yet. They asked us to move some of our dates while they draft one and we said no. We as a courtesy gave them notice and let them know what we were planning. They have tried to set unreasonable conditions and we have not agreed to them. We are trying to be reasonable but really we have a right to do these visits other Locals do it without an LOA.
In BMG the surplus is resolved by folks taking STLA or VSPP which is good but it still sucks they dropped headcount by 47 and on top of that there were some who really wanted to be able to go under the VSPP who couldn’t. The company asked for preferences from the members for new work assignments with the reorganization and from what I can tell really only did that to give the appearance they cared. Obviously some received their first preference and given the numbers mathematically that had to happen but so many didn’t from what I understand and really the company hasn’t given reasonable explanations to show they used the preferences, skill sets or seniority.
While at the same time they announced they were bringing in collections work and asked for volunteers they received 5 they needed 10. But what do they do let 2 volunteers do it and force the other 8. One of the volunteers was in collections 2 years ago has the skill sets and is very junior in regards to seniority and they wouldn’t even let him do it but at the same time take another employee with decades of service who has been given all kinds of projects and taken on In charge work and force them to do the collections piece. Everyone going there has to be trained so really I’m not sure skills are relevant so why can’t they at least attempt to go by seniority. After these assignments are made then we get a 3 page request for a Letter of agreement regarding this particular piece of work and what they will and won’t do which basically means they are saying they assign the work with no discussion, the union can’t claim the work as bargained for work later, they can move it at any time with no discussion. There is no benefit for this local to agree to that and we have asked the District not to. I understand it goes against every union grain to turn away work but really we have more than 10 volunteers ready to go and if that is the outcome then again that sucks they won’t give us the work but they won’t even entertain some sort of discussion on reasonableness so why would we agree to a very bad deal? We will see what happens.
We have members in AT&T whose contract expired on April 7. The company and the union are far apart. I don’t know what is going to happen with it. I do know I owe those members an apology for not being up to speed and keeping them in the loop better. I thought the national was communicating with them directly and it became apparent a week or so before the expiration that was simply not the case. So I am keeping up to speed following the bargaining reports closely and passing them on. They very well could go on strike only time will tell. This fight is just as important as the ongoing Verizon fight. It’s about decency, saving jobs, keeping good wage jobs in America. AT&T made almost 20 billion last year and all their proposals are to take from the employees and cut their costs. Their employee’s made them 20 billion dollars you think the company would be happy with them and reward them but no… they only want the employees to give more and do more for less but I bet the CEO and the board is getting more... Lots more why is it wrong for the employees to just want to feel secure in their jobs and be able to provide for their families? For more information on the struggle at AT&T feel free to visit the National’s web site.
DGM Controls we are still bargaining with them and it is slower than expected the company has surprised us with their thoughts on wage proposals, benefits etc… so we have to work through that.
We will be participating in a rally at T-Mobile on the 16th from 4 to 6 to protest tax day. T-Mobile who received millions of dollars in tax breaks to provide jobs has now decided to close 7 call centers and still has thousands of workers overseas. It’s time for T-Mobile to understand that outsourcing jobs and not paying taxes is not an acceptable business practice. Please join us and dozens of other groups to send that message.