..And five days later a tentative agreement (TA) is reached!
At first blush, it makes the whole “Districts United” thing seems a little awkward – until one recalls the timing. This time, there is demonstrable unity among rank-and-file members across CWA districts, which demonstrably got AT&T’s attention. Many social media groups contain thousands of AT&T employees/CWA members from across the nation; these all share a common theme: Militant Frustration. What’s more, rank-and-file members are communicating and spreading this unity outside the normal channels (sometimes far outside).
That unity is the force that brought AT&T back to bargaining in the Midwest. AT&T wisely fears unity among its employees in various CWA districts. Perhaps AT&T is counting on “bargaining fatigue” to induce the members of District 4 to vote on an agreement, perhaps timed for District 3’s contract expiration on August 3rd?
400+ Days Changes Things
In that time, employees of AT&T in every CWA district have seen it create “crises” in order to then seek advantage at the bargaining table by “solving” the crisis – for a price. Examples in recent times include:
- The “Father’s Day Massacre” (nationwide “surplus”/layoffs of ~1800)
- “Surplussing”/laying-off of Premise Techs/Wire Techs outside of seniority
- Communicating its propaganda directly to employees in what are basically “electronic captive audience meetings”
- Conducting “ghost layoffs” by targeting and unfairly disciplining employees.
- Pitting one group of employees against another to “get the work”
- Above all, giving away our work to filthy contractors!
These are not the actions of a company who wants to bargain fairly.
Days in CWA D4 without a contract, or a raise:
Mobilization works both ways
It can’t be ignored that CWA District 4 and the CWA president himself, Chris Shelton, are bringing back a TA that they feel addresses the needs and the demands of their membership. Often, especially over long bargaining such as this, “fair bargaining” under US labor law means taking back something right on the line of acceptable. Whether or not the rank-and-file within District 4 agree with this remains to be seen as details of the TA emerge in the coming days. Here is what rank-and-file can do to make their voices heard:
- Show up. To the contract explanation meetings, calls, etc.
- Show up in force. Bring like-minded sisters and brothers; let them know you are going and what your concerns are
- Be direct with your Local about your concerns with the TA; the CWA Convention is being held July 29-31, 2019 and you will want Local officers to take your concerns to CWA leadership in person. In fact, any member is welcome to show up to view the proceedings.
- Decide if you are being respected by this offer from AT&T. Vote the TA accordingly.
Last time in District 4, the ratification vote was very close (“..with 51.6 percent of the CWA members voting Yes and 48.4 percent voting No, with 56.8 percent return.” ).Voting it down hard, in high numbers, would empower the bargaining team to get more of what employees in District 4 and every other District have earned by building the network. Of course, this would likely delay things so long that AT&T would be contending with two Districts at a time, when bloated with debt, it can ill-afford labor unrest. What say you, fellow workers?