Update on DTV by Local 4900:
I wanted to take a few moments to update you on the company’s recent actions regarding Direct TV. The company has announced to the existing premises technicians that they would be attending training beginning next week. They have stated to the union that their intent is to train all existing premises technicians to do DBS (Direct Broadcast Satellite) work.
Today Midwest local presidents were on a call with our District 4 leadership team. VP Hinton informed all of us that this is now a national issue being dealt with out of our Washington D.C. headquarters in the office of President Shelton. The union and its legal team are taking a position that the union has the right to bargain over the issue. There are lots of questions currently but not many answers at all.
It seems apparent the company wants our existing premises techs to do the DBS work in the existing footprint but it’s unknown what they might do outside of our current areas. The current Direct TV model is filled with subcontractors and they perform the lion’s share of their work today.
My opinion, based on what I have gathered in conversations, is the company plans to use the DBS as a primary carrier for their video services. I believe this because the use of DBS would free up bandwidth in a copper world to make sure customers had access to at least 25mb. Why? Because the newly released FCC position is that broadband has to be 25mb to be considered as broadband. Not that a DBS delivery would work for all customers; many apartments and business or upscale homes would not allow or want a dish on their home but most wouldn’t give it too much thought as long as they get the services they want. Now that’s just my opinion and we will see how close I am over the next few years.
While we have plenty of work today, the reality is, if DBS becomes a primary delivery system; we will need to make sure the work belongs to our current bargained for titles or we could be in a very precarious situation. Keep in mind that current Direct TV model could continue and the video could shift to that contractors model without us getting the work. That would not be beneficial long term to our job security.
Having said that, our position is that the inclusion of this new work must be bargained. That does not mean we would achieve every expectation out there but it does mean we would have a voice. In most corporate mergers, there is no voice at all. We are union and have a voice. It may not be prefect and the end result is not always as pretty as we would like but we do have a voice.
As we were told today by our District, We will let you know what we know when we know it. Your local is still waiting on the company to respond to our request to bargain locally and supply us with the data we requested. As this issue develops, we will consider all options to fight for what is right for our members.