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Strike Updates

Updates and announcements regarding the AT&T strike.

Speech by Richard Trumka – mentions importance of WashTech

At about 13 minutes into this video, Trumka talks about contingent (temp) tech workers and WashTech’s role in organizing tech workers.  Text from this section of the speech is below:

When we talk about the problems facing contingent workers they
really listen: and for good reason – after all, a man or woman working
as a temp or a freelancer today may as well be walking a tightrope
without a net.

They know workers with unions make more money and have better benefits; they just don’t think unions fit the way they work. And you can’t blame them because we haven’t really focused on the way they work.

Well, we can’t ask them to change the way they earn their living to meet our model for unionism; we have to change our approach to unionism to meet their needs.

One union that’s pioneering in this is the Communications Workers. They have an affiliate called WashTech. It began as a grassroots movement of temps working at Microsoft in Seattle. Now, thanks to the Internet, it has members from Boston to Silicon Valley and it’s evolving into a dynamic, new union of tech workers dealing with problems ranging from job security and health care, to offshore outsourcing and visas.

But, you know we can’t only address their needs where they work. We need to address the fact that a lot of young people going to college today are drowning in a sea of debt by the time they come out….

AT&T Contract Ratified

Dear Colleagues: 

All of the ballots have been counted and we are pleased to announce the Tentative Agreement has been ratified by a vote of 73 percent. 
Thank you for all of your support and hard work throughout this round of bargaining.  You never waivered and we sincerely appreciate your true solidarity. 
Special thanks to the Bargaining Committee for all of their hard work!

In Unity,
Annie Hill

Executive Vice President

Excerpts from the March 5th CWA Newsletter

CWA, AT&T Mobility Reach Tentative Agreement

Tremendous unity and mobilization by CWAers at AT&T Mobility nationwide resulted in a new tentative contract. Above, CWAers from Local 7250 in Minneapolis leaflet outside a retail store.

CWA reached a tentative agreement with AT&T Mobility for the “Orange contract” that provides real gains for workers, including improvements in the retail stores compensation plan and the establishment of a new career path for customer service representatives.

The CWA bargaining committee was determined to make inroads in these critical areas and succeeded, resulting in a tentative agreement that provides good economic gains for Mobility workers and addresses workers’ priority issues. There are more than 20,000 CWA members covered by the “Orange” contract; another 22,000 CWA members at Mobility are covered by separate agreements.

The proposed settlement provides for a compounded wage increase of 8.8 percent over the four-year contract term, along with a $500 bonus. More than 11,000 retail sales consultants now will earn a minimum monthly commission of $1,000 if sales goals are met. In addition, some 500 consumer care workers will receive job upgrades and additional pay increases, as will 50-70 wireless technicians. Other important improvements addressed monitoring and quota relief.

CWA Executive Vice President Annie Hill said the bargaining team worked long and hard hours, “displaying both patience and toughness” to get a good agreement that addresses Mobility workers’ critical issues.

Contract explanation materials will be made available to members in advance of the membership ratification vote.

Mobilization by Mobility workers throughout the “Orange” territory – Districts 1, 2, 4, 7, 9 and 13 – made a tremendous difference as did support from CWA Mobility members in Districts 3 and 6 and from CWA members at “core” AT&T operations.

Bargaining covering 125,000 CWA-represented workers at AT&T got underway Feb. 24.

CWA Member Asks Solis to Fight for Employee Free Choice

Above, Hector Capote, a Cuban-American worker and vice president of CWA Local 3122, talks with Labor Secretary Hilda Solis at a Miami church. Below, CWA President Larry Cohen and Capote with participants at the Solis forum.

A CWA member from AT&T Mobility made a heartfelt plea for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act at a meeting with new Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.

Hector Capote was one of several workers who spoke with Solis at a meeting at a Miami, Fla., AME Church. The event marked Solis’s first official speech as labor secretary; more than 500 union members attended, along with CWA President Larry Cohen and other union leaders.

Capote, now a vice president of CWA Local 3122, told Solis how workers at his AT&T Mobility call center were able to form a union through majority signup. “We all worked together, managers and workers, for a fair process,” he said.

Capote said he didn’t have that chance when he began working at age 14 at a fast food chain as a new immigrant to America, and neither do millions of other Americans today. “I wanted to tell you how labor law needs to be changed so we can have more rights. The Employee Free Choice is so important to make sure that happens. I believe it holds our democracy to a higher level of truth and honesty,” he said.

Capote said that his father never earned more than $13 an hour, and in his later years had to rely on Capote; his brother, a police officer; and sister, a nurse — all union members — for financial help.

Solis acknowledged Capote’s efforts to support his father: “I know your father is proud of you. He’s probably watching you right now.”

Solis also met with members of the AFL-CIO Executive Council, and said that the days of a Labor Department “going after unions” were over. “There’s a new sheriff in town,” she said.

In a video message to the AFL-CIO Executive Council President Obama repeated his conviction that the Employee Free Choice Act will become law. “To me, and to my administration, labor unions are a big part of the solution. We need to level the playing field for workers and the unions that represent their interests – because we cannot have a strong middle class without a strong labor movement.”

CWA is Player in White House Summit on Health Care

CWA Executive Vice President Annie Hill is taking part in the White House Summit on Health Care, convened by President Obama on March 5 as the next step to real health care reform.

Members of Congress, health care providers, unions, business, insurers, and all groups with a stake in real reform are attending the session.

President Obama has said that fixing health care is crucial to getting our country’s financial house in order. “We must realize that fixing what’s wrong with our health care system is no longer just a moral imperative, but a fiscal imperative,” the President said in announcing his nomination for Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kanas Governor Kathleen Sebelius.

CWA commended Obama’s choice of Sebelius and urged the Senate to quickly confirm her.

CWA President Larry Cohen said Sebelius brings “real experience to the mission of expanding health care for the millions who now lack coverage. She will be an important advocate for President Obama’s goal of health care reform that provides affordable, accessible and quality care for all.”

CWA is working toward a health care system that requires all employers to participate and contribute to the system – “pay or play” – and does not tax workers’ health care benefits.

Workers to Take Employee Free Choice Message to Capitol Hill

Next week, workers are turning the spotlight on the Employee Free Choice Act and why the bill is critical to rebuilding the economy and restoring America’s middle class. Members of CWA and other unions will be in Washington, D.C., urging lawmakers to restore bargaining rights for American workers, the first step to turning around our faltering economy.

“Since 1935, collective bargaining has been the law of the land, and until around 1965 it was working. But since 1975, there has been a systematic effort to crush collective bargaining,” said CWA President Larry Cohen. “Some in the business community, like the Chamber of Commerce, simply oppose the idea of working people having any seat at the table. They oppose the idea of workers and management together working our way out of this economic crisis. They want to ignore the fact that in every other industrial democracy, workers have a voice in the workplace and they didn’t have to go through a grueling election and fight against their bosses to get it,” Cohen said.

On Monday, there will be actions in front of employer trade associations and at other locations.

On Tuesday morning, union members will meet on the steps of the U.S. Senate prior to meetings with their senators and representatives. Workers will present “scrapbooks” of case studies that describe the obstacles and intimidation they faced from employers while trying to get a union voice and bargaining rights. Some of the case studies highlight positive examples where employers have respected workers’ rights.

Also on Tuesday, workers from several unions, along with a panel of economists and other experts, will testify before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, a chief sponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act, is chairman of the committee.

On Wednesday, the union activists will join in workshops and training sessions on how to build even more support for Employee Free Choice, especially in their home districts. Profiles of CWA members are available at http://www.freechoiceact.org/cwa/pages/worker_profiles.


We Have a Contract!

AT&T and the CWA have agreed on a contract.  Highlights of the tentative agreement are here.

Discuss this and other topics on the new WashTech Forum!  You can use your same login that you use on this blog.

BARGAINING REPORT 23

CWA AND AT&T MOBILITY BARGAINING REPORT # 23
February 28, 2009

Bargaining resumed yesterday and continued late into the night with little if any movement on the Company side.

Wages, Job Upgrades, Subcontracting, Basis of Compensation, Sales Quota Relief and Sales Compensation are still among the top issues that have yet to be agreed upon.

There is still much work that needs to be done.

The Union is currently reviewing the Company proposals from yesterday’s meeting and is scheduled to return to the bargaining table later today.

Information will be updated as events warrant.

Stay Informed. Be Prepared. Expect the best.<–>

Negotiations

Mobility Negotiations to Resume!
AT&T Mobility Campaign Update
| February 23, 2009 |

Good news! Contract negotiations with Mobility will resume later this week. (We’ll notify you when we know which day.)
There’s only one reason for this turn of events: Mobilization
By mobilizing, you’ve shown the Company that Mobility workers are going to fight for a fair contract, and that its “last, best” offer just isn’t good enough. You’ve let the Company know that you’re not falling for their phony claims on wage increases. Wth every red shirt, every CWA button, every petition signature, every workplace sign, you’ve demonstrated that Mobility employees from the smallest retail stores to the biggest call centers are unified.
Keep it up! Now’s the time to get involved if you haven’t or let your steward know you want to get more involved. Remember, stronger mobilization = bargaining power!

Message from Bill Bates

An Open Letter to Mobility Orange Employees from Bill Bates, CWA Bargaining Committee Chair

In bargaining with AT&T Mobility, CWA has repeatedly said that it’s important to look at all the elements that go into a contract.
Economic issues are important and CWA definitely is pressing for economic improvements that will benefit Mobility workers and address the issues you’ve told us are important.
By now you have received many different communications, some from your Union, CWA, and some from AT&T. In a recent communication from AT&T Mobility’s Ralph de la Vega, the company seems surprised that we have not accepted its last offer.
We know that because of your efforts, AT&T Mobility is a successful company. In the last quarter of 2008, 2.1 million new wireless subscribers signed up, that brings the total subscribers to 77 million, a strong gain of 7 million over the previous year. For 2008, total wireless revenues were $49.3 billion—that’s an increase of 15.6 over the previous year.
AT&T said it well: Despite the economic environment, we grew revenues in 2008 and I expect 2009 will be another year of overall revenue growth and solid progress for our company. (Source: AT&T Reports Fourth-Quarter and Full-Year Results Highlighted by Robust Wireless Data Growth, 1-28-2009)
Clearly AT&T is a leader in the telecom industry. It should be a leader in helping turn the economy around and in providing good middle class jobs.
Of course economic issues are important. And one of the main economic factors for us to consider that didn’t exist when we bargained contracts in Districts 3 and 6 was future changes to the health care plan over the next four years. While the final details are being worked out, we know that, based on the recent arbitration decision, Mobility workers will be paying more.
Also, economic issues are not the only issues on the table. The non-economic items are a major reason why we haven’t been able to reach a proposed settlement. Unfortunately, Mobility has been unwilling to address a wide range of issues that employees say will make working life better.
We’ve talked some about a career path for customer service professionals. Clearly Mobility workers are doing their job and more, as the number of new customers grows. Mobility customer service professionals are providing the quality service that keeps customers coming back. These employees want and need opportunity for growth within customer service: for training, increased responsibility and increased compensation.
Mobility customer service professionals provide quality service, and will continue to do so as negotiations go forward. It’s time for Mobility management to recognize this contribution to Mobility’s success.
Scheduling is another critical area. Mobility employees need and want to know in advance what hours we will be working, and more than just a couple days in advance. That’s the only way workers can begin to balance their work lives, personal lives and family responsibilities.
Quota relief in the retail stores is another important issue for Mobility workers. Right now, retail store employees are disciplined for not meeting their full week’s sales quota when they were off work a day during that week.
These are just a few of the non-economic issues we’re pushing Mobility to resolve.
And finally, you need to know that the total CWA family is behind you. Just last week we reached out to our telecommunications workers who work for AT&T and we received hundreds of e-mails of solidarity and support.
Lisa from Local 9575 in California wrote, “Our local is committed to help AT&T Mobility workers with any help requested. We will be there for the workers. This fight is not just the fight of workers at Mobility but is also a fight for all CWA members. You can count on Local 9575 to be there for you.” Watch for more messages of support like this.
With patience, perseverance and solidarity, we will get the quality contract that Mobility workers deserve.

Cooling Off Period

The company stated the union walked away from the negotiations table, the reality is: it became crystal clear to the Union that the company did not come to the table with the intent to try to reach resolution during on our remaining issues during the 24-hour extension, and refused a 30-day contract extension; the union notified the company it may be in everyone’s best interest if there would be a cooling off period. We called our break a cooling off period because that is normally what it is called in negotiations.

Tell your fellow members to get their facts off the CWA website instead of listening to the company. Ask them who made billions in profits last year due to the work that they put in, and at&t needs to be able to do that again this year. Why wouldn’t they mislead people? The company has everything to gain by distorting the truth and everything to lose if they don’t.

Keep watching the website. New information is posted frequently.

Last and Final Offer

AT&T Mobility Campaign Update
Friday, Feb. 13

Most of you have seen the “highlight document” that was posted by management about its final offer at the bargaining table late Saturday night. We have provided additional information/analysis about the company’s outline on wage increases and job classifications; those updates were distributed earlier this week. Go to www.cwa-attmobility.com for more details.

Some members are asking, “What’s the Union’s package? What do we want the company to change?” CWA puts together bargaining goals based on the information that Mobility members and locals provide in the bargaining surveys. It’s a democratic process to make sure we’ve identified the big issues and concerns of members. That information is consolidated and used to set our bargaining agenda and proposals.

What the company is circulating is presented as its “final package.” CWA does not put a “final package” on the table. The bargaining team believes we are far apart on many key items. In fact, we still want more detailed discussion about these important issues. That’s how a contract comes together. A “take it or leave it” package approach doesn’t work. CWA members have identified a lot of diverse and important issues that need to be addressed and that is what your bargaining team is attempting to do in these negotiations.
Following is a list of many of the key issues that your bargaining team is working to address:
• Wages
• Retail stores issues (sales compensation plan, quota relief for discipline and scheduling)
• Career path opportunities in call centers (especially in the care centers)
• Subcontracting of our work
• Monitoring
• Overtime
• Differentials
• Pensions
We also want to make sure that we have an opportunity to negotiate over the items that AT&T wants to change during the life of the agreement.

Over the next reports, we’ll provide more details about many of these issues and why it’s important to negotiate changes.

The most important thing to know is that your bargaining committee is negotiating to bring all of these issues together and resolve them in the best way possible for Mobility members. That doesn’t just happen, it takes hard work and time to get the entire package put together. That’s what we’re working for, and with the support of AT&T members and others throughout CWA, we will make it happen.

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