Like many a good CWA member, last night my Wifey dialed into the “AT&T Midwest Bargaining Town Hall Call” to get the scoop on why AT&T employees in the Midwest are still working without a contract seven months into bargaining. We listened to reports from CWA leadership who are involved in the current bargaining; as well, questions were taken from some of the rank-and-file members who attended the call. Though I am two-ish years on from my unlawful termination by AT&T, I plan on coming back to right wrongs and so have been watching bargaining with keen interest. I have some observations. (tl;dr It’s bad, but fixable)
Santa isn’t coming this year
Both CWA President Chris Shelton and CWA District 4 VP Linda Hinton made a couple things clear:
- AT&T does not want to talk about the things we want, need, to talk about. Things like contractors doing our work; and, closing call-centers to ship that work overseas (like GM)
- Legal strategies via the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) are now problematic because the NLRB members are appointed by the US president. Currently, President Trump’s NLRB is now very boss-friendly and likes to take shots at weakening unions whenever it can.
- Both Shelton and Hinton said on the call that AT&T is not listening to them nor the Bargaining Committee. When pressed by a call-in questioner, Shelton did not accuse AT&T of union-busting. But, if it looks like a duck..
- In other words, top-down chatter between the suits isn’t working and, without incentive to move at the bargaining table, AT&T will win this battle.
It’s time to make managers hate their lives
I mean starting with the first-line managers; those are where reports of “labor peace” and other lies are originating. As long as field-managers are reporting out good numbers and quiet employees, AT&T will continue to ignore the Bargaining Committee. Once these guys stop getting good numbers from the field, AT&T will be back to the table – and only then. Here is a short and non-comprehensive list of legal, protected activities you can lay on your bosses
- Stop working voluntary overtime – just stop! You know it is wrong and that doing so helps management. Self-serving excuses about one’s love of the customer are transparent and, if true, do not reflect management’s behavior towards customer service, does it?
- Stop filling in as “team leader” (TLD). You are literally helping management at a time when management is trying to reduce the quality of your work-life. This is true even if you don’t take the contractual pittance of $14/day (which some due, adding insult to injury). Ask yourself: Am I so broken that I want to accidentally be perceived as a boss?
- Follow every rule and work very safely. When in doubt, ask your boss to demonstrate the correct procedure; if he does not, escalate the matter to his boss.
- If you work a later shift, a weekend shift, and/or were forced to work mandatory overtime, call the duty manager with all work-related question that apply that day. Ambiguous answers or ignored calls should be followed up with an email that is cc’d to your union steward and your “normal” boss
- Grieve everything
- Publicize the name of the manager who handed out the most disciplines within your Local; post to union bulletin board
- Hold an informational picket on that manager’s street asking him to be nicer to employees; leaflet neighborhood (very legal and extremely effective)
AT&T doesn’t have to act this way; AT&T is choosing to. They don’t “need” to reduce your standard of living; they are choosing to. What do you choose to do? Whatever you do, do it together. Internalize the fact that, by not meeting with your elected Bargaining Committee, you are being disrespected by management.
Time to fix that, wouldn’t you say?