AT&T Employees Have a Right to Bargain Over Beeping GPS

Recently many AT&T employees have been startled, often unsafely so, while driving by AT&T’s new GPS “features.” Specifically, a loud and often persistent beeping when the GPS judges that a driver made an error. By accounts from many union reps across the country, this change to the way AT&T monitors its employees was not announced or discussed with its union.

This is unlawful and the union can do something about this.

Why demand to bargain?

In a unionized workplace, employee monitoring or surveillance is a mandatory subject of bargaining. This means that AT&T must discuss any changes to the system before implementing them and then bargain with the union over the change if the union demands it. Such a bargaining demand is a simple communication to an area manager or above such as the example provided below.

AT&T is notorious for doing whatever the hell it wants unless challenged. Yet, by its actions AT&T has put the safety of some employees at risk; this should not go unexamined and employee safety is one of the bedrock reasons unions exist. Unions have the legal right to request a great deal of information about any mandatory subject of bargaining such as safety, wages, hours, etc. in order to effectively bargain on behalf of their members. They should exercise this right at the slightest whiff of AT&T management arrogance.

Make your boss’s day by demanding bargaining

Dear [Area Manager]:

Please receive this letter as formal notice of our Demand to Bargain over the methods, manners, and plan designs of changes to AT&T’s employee monitoring system, hereinafter known as “GPS” or “VTS”. Due to the effects of the Company’s unilateral decision to implement changes to the GPS systems on board employee-driven vehicles, the Union presents you with our Demand to Bargain over these and related mandatory subjects of these topics and/or the impacts of these changes to wages, benefits and working conditions of the current relevant bargaining units of this Local, as well as any new bargaining units/work-groups contemplated by the Company.

The Union also asserts that our understanding of details of the above continue to evolve due the lack of timely formal notice by the AT&T department leadership. We have been hampered by relying on rumor, conjecture, and/or limited – at times conflicting – information by AT&T leadership department rather than official notice from Company agents such as Labor Relations.

CWA Local [XXXX} demands to bargain over these dramatic changes and requests a directive to maintain status quo, specifically to halt and reverse any changes to GPS made since AT&T and the Union last discussed these changes. As you know, these unilateral changes cannot be implemented until bargaining is completed. Certainly, a detailed information request will be forthcoming. Until then, for the nonce I would appreciate a belated formal notice of the Company’s intentions in this matter as well as any information and by what authority it may have been deemed proper. Finally, please advise me if you have any questions and inform me of potential dates you are available to arrange our schedules.

Don’t forget to request lots of information about the change

The right request for information (RFI) can make or break the union’s position on a bargaining issue; it’s best to ask for as much info as possible. Unions are not limited to just one request, but can follow up in writing, request meetings with AT&T vendors and technical experts and much more. Here are some resources for that:

Remember: Never answer your boss’s questions about GPS beeping without a union steward present! What is your Local doing to combat this latest AT&T outrage? Let us know in the comments!

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