CWA District 4, representing about 9,000 AT&T employees in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin has not been back to the bargaining table with AT&T since March 28, 2019. This was to receive the latest “final offer” from AT&T that pissed in face of not only the CWA bargaining team, but those of every rank-and-file employee. The retrogressive demands by AT&T included things like:
- Higher healthcare costs with an added working spouse/partner surcharge of $100.00 a month if they have health care available to them from their employer but chose to stay on the bargained for employee’s plan.
- Prescription integration; meaning your coverage would not kick in until your medical plan deductible is met.
- Tobacco cessation surcharge of $65.00 a month for you and your spouse/partner
- No retroactive pay
- Wage increases not effective until 60 days after ratification
- Major changes to (ESC) Employment Security Commitment and EEOP (Extended Employment Opportunity Plan), which would include mandatory testing that could lead to ineligibility to be qualified for ESC
- Adding fusion splicing to job duties for premises technicians in Appendix F
- No change to allow for surplus by inverse seniority in Appendix F
Now, in about 81 days it will be CWA District 3’s turn in the bucket. District 3, representing AT&T’s employees in the the former BellSouth part of the country (Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, North/South Carolina, and Louisiana), is faced with a grim road-map first traveled in District 4; an anti-union employer who only wants give-backs and seemingly doesn’t care whether a deal is reached at all.
You read correctly: It is our position that AT&T is an anti-union employer and should be viewed that way by its unions. When we, or our union leaders, refuse to acknowledge this simple truth, we blind ourselves to the reality that we have an enemy, AT&T management, who is trying to steal our livelihood in order to better theirs. And, not just the CEO or other “big-wig” managers! Every single AT&T manager is being trained to either do our bargained-for work or to manage teams of contractors who will.
The truth revealed by 400 days of bargaining is this: AT&T management is happy as long the rank-and-file content themselves with some low-level bitching and letting the same few dozen folks fill out petitions for investigations. When the workers are unhappy and AT&T managers aren’t, there is an unhappiness unbalance that needs to be corrected in order for progress at bargaining to be maintained.
Real talk: Job actions that target first-line managers, and cause them real pain, are the quickest path to fair treatment at bargaining. This is because they are the bargaining “canary in the coalmine” whose cries of anguish at low productivity or embarrassing job actions will signal the AT&T bargaining team to get serious with the union.