Wow….What a year 2015 has been already!
2015 started with a bang! Core bargaining took place with at&t and culminated with a tentative agreement being ratified by the members represented by that contract. Sounds short and sweet huh? No not really. It was a tremendous fight against a corporate giant in an ever dwindling workforce that is unionized in the U.S. The members did a fantastic job in mobilizing and using the tools we had to force a fair contract. While I am proud to say, I represented Indiana and the Midwest at the bargaining table, the member’s mobilization is what got us a contract. The mobilization efforts including every tried and true tactic; including the first local wide grievance strike. Every core member walked out in support of 1 premise technician who had been unfairly disciplined. That was 1500 members saying, NO! They had enough and made their voices heard. Although this wasn’t in support of bargaining, it made a difference at the table and forced the company to move off of ridiculous demands. Demands for the members to pay outrageously high health care cost via premium increases, givebacks of paid holidays, pension’s freezes or loss of pensions for all those in appendix F, total loss of paid sick time, to even the sad point of refusal to bargain for retirees that built the company. Although we may not have reached outcomes on all these topics that satisfied every member, the democratic process was followed and the tentative agreement was ratified by a majority of the membership.
On the heels of the ratification came more news on the worst kept secret at at&t; Direct TV training began for our premises technicians. The local immediately made several data requests and demands to bargain this work upon notification of the training. As of this newsletter we have not received a response to either of those requests. The company has cited that the deal is not closed and they can train technicians. While this may be true; we do contend that if the deal is to close, we stand by our demands. I hope you have followed the news on this topic by either going to your website at cwa4900.org or downloading the Local’s app which is available for either apple or android devices. The app has all of the local’s contracts, news feeds for local and national and all events across the state.
In closing let talk about football! Yes it’s almost that time for our favorite teams to start up again. Maybe you’re not a football fan but pick your sport. From little league or kids soccer to the pro’s. Why? I want you to think about your favorite team and what we all do after a win or loss. We “Monday morning quarterback”. Why, because it’s what we all do. I do it and you do it. It’s the what if, the why or should or could have done that differently. That’s ok because sometimes we learn valuable lessons from this. The most questioned issue lately has been the direct tv and why the union didn’t hold out to bargain and make this an issue at the table. As a member of that bargaining team, we attempted to bargain the issue and did not have any success because the deal had not closed and still has not. From a legal standpoint, bargaining in bad faith can have serious consequences such as allowing the company to implement a contract they want with no vote from the members. It’s ok to question the outcome but let’s rely on facts and data to judge the final “play”. Let’s not rely on rhetoric from social media. When is the last time you attended a union meeting or much less just read the news feed from your local. We work damn hard every day to make sure you are the most informed members you can be if you read the news on the site.
We have lots of battles coming:
-Direct TV, We need and want the work. If what we hear is correct, all video will go to the satellite platform unless it’s a fiber to premises. Without that satellite work we will face surpluses in our field forces that could be devastating. But we deserve to be compensated fairly. This fight will continue.
-Johnson Controls, while currently they are in bargaining and awaiting a contract, we are fighting a tough fight while the companies they support continue to sell assets that support our work.
-ADT-TYCO, although the work remains stable, we are fighting through changes in both companies and we do have negotiations coming in ADT this fall.
-Mobility, changes in attendance policies, compensation changes in our retail stores and the continuing fight against subcontractors.
These are all real fights waged each and every day by your local from the stewards to the Presidents seat. Armchair quarterback each decision because it’s who we are and what we all do. But before you get angry or assume your armchair judgment is correct, reach out to your local union rep and get the facts.
Have a safe and enjoyable summer.