A friend on Facebook wondered aloud about something called “Family Night” and this reminded me that I had testified about such a thing at a different NLRB hearing in 2015. I’m a fan of Family Night(s); AT&T is not so much.
Family Night has been known as a euphemism for a concerted activity in which all employees in a work-group exercise their contractual right to not work voluntary overtime. Typically, this is to protest and correct management’s misapplication of work-rules regarding overtime.
Management often views Family Night as an uncontractual work-stoppage because of the “No Strike” clau– Wait a minute! When working without a contract, certain work-stoppages are now protected activity under the law!
“Family Nights” Can Be Protected Concerted Activity
- Stewards in all shops where this is a problem should submit an information request to Local management asking for the “Labor Brief” or “Written Guidance From Labor Relations on the Application of e.g. “Appendix F(5.06) Overtime” The relevance should be that the union is attempting to enforce the contract and investigate a grievance regarding that application. (Denial of this request is an unfair labor practice)
- Stewards should distribute this information to the affected work-group and discuss conducting protected concerted activities to enforce their contract; now is the best time as the “No-strike” clause is not in effect
- The Company has the right to mandate that Prem Techs work 14 hours of overtime per week (excepting “emergency”)
- All other overtime hours not mandated by management are considered by AT&T Midwest to be voluntary overtime
- Employees have the right to not work voluntary overtime
- In order to exercise their contractual rights, employees must be told by management which overtime hours are voluntary, and which are mandatory; this is also AT&T’s policy in different documents (such as one referenced on page 21 of the union’s brief in my case “..’The Manager’s Guide To Corrective Action’..”)
- “Hit the button” does not comply with AT&T policy! Likely it would not pass the smell test in an unfair labor practice investigation
- Not providing this information to employees who ask is a violation of AT&T’s own policies and is likely an unfair labor practice (ULP) as it could easily be viewed as deliberate management action to interfere with employees’ ability to exercise their contractual rights. Threatening discipline could be viewed as a violation as well; certainly disciplining employees who simply want to ensure they are not accidentally working voluntary overtime
- During bargaining without a contract, ULP’s may be met with grievance-strikes, group-grievance sit-ins, etc.
This is the fastest, easiest way to solve this thorny issue. Management is likely to try to threaten and intimidate over this. Be brave. Watch out for each other.
- If instead management timely provides the necessary information, then the contract is being followed. In that (somewhat miraculous) event, a craft-meeting should be held to discuss whether all mandatory overtime should be worked at once, then shut faucet off each, oh, say, Wednesday or so for the rest of the week. Decisions should be made collectively in craft-meetings.
- Union members must follow their own contract and work any mandated overtime in accordance with their boss’s directive. However, employees should be encouraged to never have a conversation with their boss about this without a steward. Managers have been known to prevaricate or may not even know if the employee has worked all hours or not when he gives the directive. This should be challenged every time
- If a manager gets gnarly about Family Night, encourage them to call Labor Relations to ask if they are cool with a ULP charge from every affected employee or the local
- Document all conversations! Be sure to provide management your contractual and legal (NLRB) reasons and follow up in writing — judges like this!
- When in doubt, aggress!