By TIM ROWDEN
Communication Workers of America (CWA) District 4 members walked off their jobs at AT&T June 1 in an Unfair Labor Practices strike after the company tried to bypass the union’s bargaining team, emailing members directly with what it called its “final offer” instead of negotiating with CWA’s democratically elected bargaining team.
The union notified the company that its actions were upsetting the membership, “but as usual, AT&T thinks they know best,” the bargaining committee reported.
This incident marked the second time in 10 days that AT&T has attempted to direct bargain with CWA members forcing workers into the street over the company’s Unfair Labor Practices.
Union members picketed outside AT&T’s cell tower building at 2651 Olive St. last week, accompanied by a large, inflatable corporate hog.
ATTEMPTING TO DIVIDE MEMBERS
“This is going on across the district,” said Travis Young, president of CWA Local 4217 in Belleville, IL. “The company decided to bargain directly with members in an attempt to divide members instead of with our elected bargaining team. Workers are prepared to protest for as long as it takes.”
CWA has been in negotiations for a new contract with AT&T since March 6. The old contract expired on April 14. The CWA negotiating team said discussions with the company on training and employment security issues have yielded no real progress.
The talks affect about 14,000 workers in AT&T Midwest, which includes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio, and another 14,000 workers in AT&T Legacy T, who are nationwide.
“We support the National Labor Relations Act and demand AT&T bargain with our democratically elected bargaining team,” said Sidney Horn, president of CWA Local 6350 in St. Louis.
The District 4 committee was seeking further talks with the company.
“CWA members in District 4 want to work,” the committee reported. “We want outsourced and contracted-out functions to be returned to the bargaining unit.
“We want to reach a contract that allows all of us to continue our careers providing service to our customers and communities that has been sorely lacking in recent years.
“We cannot allow the downward spiral of poor customer service and lack of investment in employees and communities to continue.”
IT’S ABOUT JOBS
“We are concerned with jobs and work in the Midwest region and we have not veered from that intent,” the union said in a statement.
“The Company, as of today, has not been willing to have serious discussions about this topic. The Union has repeatedly made proposals to recover outsourced work and work that is growing. We told AT&T that we can work together to return work to the bargaining unit while making it financially viable to the company, but it will take meaningful dialogue.
“We have been trying to reach an agreement with the Company for the past three months. We hope that AT&T shares the same commitment. We can work together to ensure a future for AT&T employees and our members.”