There is very little progress to report on with contract negotiations. Our bargaining team sent a clear message to the company, outlining what it will take to reach an agreement. Today, District 3 Vice-President, Richard Honeycutt met with the company’s leadership and emphasized the bargaining team’s position on the important issues. The company’s leadership requested time to consider the Union’s demands.
There is progress to report on with our mobilization efforts across District 3. Last Friday, members throughout the nine (9) states joined together in informational pickets at their reporting locations and made it clear that CWA members, our bargaining team, and our District 3 leadership are all willing to do whatever it takes to secure the contract that we deserve.
To provide some insight into what has been taking place in negotiations, we have listed the statement that Vice-President Honeycutt’s Assistant, Nick Hawkins issued to the company at the bargaining table on Saturday 08/17/19.
As of today, two weeks have passed since contract expiration. CWA has, in good faith, asked our members to continue working for AT&T while we attempted to bargain a new contract for them.
The legal right to join together and bargain collectively in order to better our wages, benefits, and working conditions is an important part of the American fabric, which holds us all together. This right gives employees a voice that is equal to their employer. This right, granted to us by federal law, mandates that companies and labor unions, come together in the spirit of good faith, and bargain towards an agreement.
The collective bargaining process has helped millions of working men and women across our nation to improve their standard of living, rise from poverty, attain quality healthcare, demand safe working conditions, provide a stable life for their families, send their children to college, and to one day retire with dignity and respect.
At the same time, with laws in place concerning the rights of employees to engage in the collective bargaining process, American corporations, like AT&T have enjoyed the wealthiest economy on earth. With laws in place concerning the rights of employees to engage in the collective bargaining process, AT&T has been able to generate billions of dollars in profits year after year; to reward their shareholders with dividend increases year after year; to pay out millions of dollars in executive bonuses year after year; and to purchases numerous other companies through corporate acquisitions.
The collective bargaining process works well for both employees and employers - but only when the process is respected. Only when corporations and labor unions come to the bargaining table in the spirit of mutual respect. Only when corporations understand that their success is dependent upon the hard work of their employees. Only when labor unions understand that companies must generate a profit in order to stay in business.
It is truly a sad day for me, knowing that I have to sit at this bargaining table and state the cold hard truth. It is truly a sad day knowing that I have spent nearly twenty (20) years of my life working for this company, and I now have to say that AT&T, which was at one time known to be one of the great American companies, has made a complete mockery of the collective bargaining process.
We can examine the package proposal that AT&T put across the bargaining table today. This morning, through their proposal, AT&T demanded that their employees agree to the following:
· To eliminate a council where their concerns can be addressed with the company’s leadership
· To perform higher rated, more advanced, technological work without a pay increase
· To allow the company to lay them off in order to shift their work to low wage subcontractors
· To allow the company to lay them off with no regard for seniority
· To eliminate payments they receive, after they have spent over 30 years climbing telephone poles and their doctor says that due to the abuse to their bodies over those 30 years, they are permanently medically restricted
· To allow the company to force them to go to work 24 hours a day 7 days a week, through a mandatory stand by program
· To cut the pay and eliminate the positions, which employ representatives who assist them with continuing education, college tuition assistance, health insurance, and short-term disability claims
· To allow the company to eliminate their jobs, force them into lower rated positions, and to then force them to continue performing the duties of their old job which was eliminated
· To decrease the amount of illness time for employees
“All of these demands that the company has made of their employees, will add up to more than an estimated 10 million dollars in savings over the life of the next contract”
This morning, through their proposal, AT&T demanded all of this from employees and in exchange for all these demands and millions of dollars in savings, AT&T offered, to only one-third of their employees the following:
· To eliminate the requirement to provide a 24-hour notification, before an employee can take their one (1) guaranteed day off per year
· To provide one extra week of notification before the company lays them off
“These two (2) offers that the company has made to employees will not cost the company a penny”
It is truly a sad day knowing that the corporate greed at AT&T has risen to such a level.
CWA’s bargaining team and CWA’ District leadership have made numerous attempts to reach an agreement in bargaining. Time after time, when CWA attempted to negotiate a settlement and bring negotiations to a conclusion, we ran right into the company’s wall of greed. Throughout every single attempt to negotiate a fair contract for our members, AT&T’s leadership continuously advised us “The Company has no interest”. On more than one occasion, the company’s leadership refused to read, or even look at the Union’s demands.
In addition to the outrageous demands at the bargaining table, AT&T has admitted to manipulating financial calculations on wages and benefits, which have been an important part of these negotiations.
The most glaring example of the company’s representatives lack of authority to reach a deal and settle negotiations, would be on the issue of uniforms. The company mandates that technicians wear a uniform during work hours and prohibits them from wearing personal clothing while at work. While this is the case, the company’s lead negotiator does not have the authority bargain an agreement with the Union that would ensure that technicians who work in freezing cold temperatures were provided a winter coat.
Because of the company’s actions, it has become clear that our bargaining team and CWA’s District leadership are not bargaining with anyone from AT&T who has the authority to settle the contract or even to make minor decisions about negotiations. We have made moves and we continue to make moves. We are ready to continue the bargaining process and have told the company so, but we need someone sitting on the other side of the table that we can actually bargain with.
Considering this, CWA has been forced to file an unfair labor practice charge against AT&T. CWA’s bargaining team and district leadership will be looking forward to the day that AT&T sends someone to Georgia who has the authority to make a decision and bargain a contract.