TO: CWA District 4 Local Presidents – AT&T Midwest
I wanted to update concerns about the status of DirecTV and issues regarding work covered by Appendix F.
First, let me say that I understand all your frustration, and it is equally shared by the District 4 staff with AT&T responsibilities, and myself. I continue to hope that our shared frustration ultimately is expressed and directed at the appropriate party rather than at each other.
As you already know, in the time leading up to the Labor Advisory Forum and the Common Interest Forum, and still today the Company had provided little concrete information regarding their business plans related to the acquisition. It was everyone’s presumption, fueled by the initiation of DirecTV installation training for our Premises Technicians and the announcement by President Shelton of Randall Stevenson’s commitment to afford District 4 Premises Technicians the same twenty cents ($0.20) District 3 negotiated upon ratification, that Premises Technicians would be responsible for doing this work.
After President Shelton’s announcement, it quickly became evident that AT&T’s Midwest Labor decided that strings needed to be attached to the agreement made between the two. These contingencies included addressing the disagreement between District 4 and Labor around the Scope of Work for Appendix F (specifically FTTP and fiber work in the letter outside of the agreement). As I believe you know, the Company feels they agreed to a scope of work which gave the Company more latitude than what we feel was agreed to in bargaining. Midwest Labor’s position was the twenty cents ($0.20) would be applied if and when the District agreed to their interpretation of the scope and the District forfeited the ability to grieve or arbitrate the scope through the term of the collective bargaining agreement. You can be assured that the District would not entertain either aspects of their proposal. Since that time, Jerry, Curt, Ron, and I have been continually engaging Labor in discussions trying to resolve this issue. In our efforts, we are trying to do more than just “win” a war of words with Labor. Our focus has been to reach an agreement that would not only reflect what we agreed to in bargaining, but also secure work for the title(s) which traditionally performed that work. In doing so, our Premises Technicians could focus on their current duties, as well as new ones related to DirecTV. Any and all progress that could be made has, to this point, been hindered by AT&T Midwest Labor. However, we will continue to push back…we must.
With respect to the current lack of work we are experiencing; we, too, are concerned. But, as you heard at the same time we did, the department looks to have Premises Technicians do this work. I would agree their current use of contractors and the DirecTV work not migrating to our technicians as quickly as we would like is frustrating. Moreover, as of today we have heard from the department that all issues of their system integration have not been resolved. Diminishing U-verse deployment is a concern, and our hope is the DirecTV work will fill that void in some capacity. At the end of the day, I’m sure you know that we will fight, as always, to preserve every job out there. This situation is no different.
Lastly, the bargaining taking place in District 9 concerning DirecTV employees may have an underlying effect on what is taking place with DirecTV nationally.
In summary, I certainly understand the frustration that is out there, and I’m sure you know it is shared by the D4 staff, as well. Finally, let me be clear. The time it has taken to work through this is not due to us “finessing” around our relationship with the Company, or an attempt to preserve a “good” relationship with AT&T Midwest Labor. On the contrary, as a result of the lack of cooperation from Midwest Labor on this and many other issues, our Midwest relationship is strained — to say the least — and appears to be quickly headed down a path by the Company’s choice that will change the long-standing Midwest relationship for years to come.
If and when Midwest Labor decides to start working with us to try and resolve issues again, we will update you. Until then, as a Local President, you certainly have the ability to recommend if your members join with the Company on any voluntary initiatives.
Linda L. Hinton
CWA District 4