CWA Local 7800

January 2014

Happy New year everyone!! I suppose that could be the happiest part of my report. I will be brief this month as well (The Executive Board is thankful). This year promises to bring more challenge in politics and in the work place.

We have already seen challenges in the CenturyLink areas. Believe it or not they were having a hard time figuring out how to code some mandatory OT for techs…. Maybe they thought they would never have to force anyone to do overtime.. Yeah that’s it… Several of the PD agreements have come back across my desk with less opportunity for our membership and more restrictions. Several have not been signed yet because of it. A work in progress. We also had a workgroup deny priority time on New Year’s Eve. It was the day before a holiday so there were caps in place but the department didn’t even honor the caps- just blocked it all. Around early afternoon and after some email exchanges, they did go offer people who were previously denied the priority time but this was hours after they requested it and after they came into work. In discussing with management days later, management shared why it was initially denied and why they felt they could. Their answer was it does not say in the agreement that they have to honor that in the morning so they thought if they offered it in the afternoon then they would be in compliance… While management does have a point in one regard, the intent of first come first serve is that the time be granted immediately; at least when discussing the negotiated caps. If they want to mull it over later- requests then so be it but they have to at least honor the caps when the requests come in and they have agreed to do that. In all my years (not many by some standards) I have never heard that from management. I was somewhat taken aback but at the same time I was thinking it never ceases to amaze me how creative management can get when they want to circumvent a policy.

On the RMG side they have floated about some new policies that we have not been able to discuss yet and we are already into the New Year. Hopefully those negotiations will be handled soon. One of my peers (another Local President) is still trying to get those meetings set up and hopefully soon.

Construction has done some rearranging as well on how they assign work and reorganized the crews. All of the copper folks are supposed to be learning fiber (which is good) but the company just expects to put them in a truck with a fiber tech. There is no benchmark, lesson plan, or obligation for a fiber tech to train, so I am not sure how that will work out or how that training is Quantifiable. The company insists a lot more fiber work is coming. We are hopeful and we of course want them to succeed but are skeptical at times because of previous decisions and claims that have been made that well, just simply never happen.

We had 4 COTS leave the business the last week of December under a VSPP and it seems the company has no intention of filling those positions and the headcount was slim to begin with. It will be interesting how they are going to staff in the future to meet the demands of the client. The majority of the COTS are pension eligible so they could really go at any time. As of my last conversation (after these COTS left payroll) management really didn’t have a plan on how they were going to handle the vacancies although they did agree most likely some movement of people will have to happen.

I met with MV to finish up some grievances. We hope to have the new negotiated timelines working smoothly soon. There was some lag as we went through the end of the year. The new bids are done and they have been distributed to the workgroups. The Local Stewards for MV were given the bids on a Friday to review and were told they would be disseminated to the work groups on the following Tuesday, so any concerns needed to be raised by then. When our Stewards came to work Monday morning the bids were being distributed. I really don’t understand MV management. Either they don’t respond at all or they rush things. There never appears to be a happy medium. There were concerns on the Shuttle side regarding the scheduling of the safety meetings and the wait times from the shift time to the meeting time and we were able to get some changes made. It’s not perfect by any means but an improvement to what was first delivered. If employees bid for a route but think the scheduled safety meeting will be problematic for them I encourage them to work with their manager to find a meeting that works better for the employee. The company in the past has worked with people and will continue to do so within reason.

The vacation changes that went into effect requires a lot of work. This first year management was supposed to have configured all the prorated amounts so we could figure out the allocations per day of how much time would be offered and we could route it, but it has not been done. I have been told it will be completed by the end of the week that begins on Jan 12. Mind you, I was told they would be done last week as well and we scheduled a meeting to discuss it but they did not have the numbers ready. In the meantime they are allowing folks to submit time through February and are making decisions on those requests. Any time requested after February will not be acted upon until we can do the vacation routing is done.

I want to reiterate that employees should ask for a Steward if taken into a meeting. The employee needs to ask “Can this meeting lead to discipline?” If the answer is yes then you have a right to ask for a Steward and you should. Again though I have to stress employees have to be honest in these meetings. If uncomfortable answering questions due to some medical or other issue you don’t want to share with local management you have to let the Steward know so we can address it. We have had employees not be truthful in those meetings and that has led to termination. A termination regarding honesty is one of the hardest grievances to overcome to the benefit of our member. So remember honesty is the best policy.

The new contracts have been proofread and will be at the printer soon. We hope to come out the 3rd week of January to distribute them along with some calendars.

It will be an important year in politics. I will encourage everyone to pay attention and vote. I would discuss the whole Boeing issue but I frankly find it all rather disturbing. I did write about it in the newsletter. It is a difficult time for all of labor and we really have to stand united whenever possible.

Another big issue it the TPP which we also discussed in the newsletter If you receive a request from us to contact your legislator please do. It only takes a few minutes and really at this point we are only asking for public debate on the issue.

As far as the Local moving goes, that is temporarily on hold. The new owner has asked us to stay and verbally has agreed to extend our current terms into a new lease, but I have yet to see that written into a document. Eventually the new owner will do something with this building so eventually we will have to move but that could be many years in the future. We were working with a real estate person to find a new location and my direction to them now is currently we don’t have an urgent need, but if something comes up that would be a could fit for us please let us know. I hope to extend our lease on a month to month basis so we could go to a new location if a great opportunity arises.

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