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AT & T, the CWA and RTW

As of midnight the contract between AT & T and and the Communications Workers of America will have expired and that means Indiana’s new Right to Work will kick in for the hundred of employees who are union members here in the Hoosier State.

Under RTW, a worker cannot be compelled to pay union fees as a condition of their employment.  The law went into effect on March 14 and it impacts contracts either created or modified after that date.

Proponents of RTW have argued that it was about worker freedom and choice.  They also say if a union is truly representing its employees they will gladly pay dues because they are getting their money’s worth.

Opponents say it was simply a way to break the unions and it allows non-union employees to freeload because a union has to represent all the employees in a workplace under federal law if it chooses to be the exclusive bargaining unit.

The CWA Local 4900 represents about 3500 workers here in the Midwest, including Indiana. The two sides have apparently been deadlocked over issues such as health care and sick leave.   The national union has called for strikes in the event an agreement cannot be reached.

The union’s website says members are closing ranks, however we reported a while back that there was dissension in the local ranks over what some members have believed was inadequate representation.  This could leave to a decline in membership under the new RTW law.

This will definitely be something worth following.


  • Scooter

    Yep, sure is.  As a craft worker at 220 N. Meridian, (who is royally pissed over our CEO blowing $6B in cash on the failed T-Mo deal and an additional $1B in spectrum), I’m ready to jump ship entirely.  (Shareholders, please vote this bean-counter gone at the next shareholders meeting… please!)

    Labor, and it’s representative Unions, need to evolve into this new world-competitive place.  The Labor Unions of our fathers & grandfathers has no place in today’s world

    Now, if the FCC would get off the back of the top six wireless providers, the consumer would be amazed at what technology, (as well as speeds!),  would hit the market in the next several years.

  • Abdul

     Can you e-mail me at abdul@indypolitics.org?  Would love to chat with you.  Thanks.

  • Think Again

    I’ve been a shareholder since the early days.  It is the ONLY think that keeps me as a customer.  Their advertised Uverse and cell/data “speeds” are a complete joke.  Except downtown during the Super Bowl….which, frankly, proves they CAN do it if they invest the dough.

    Their customer service is the worst in the industry.  Bar none.  Typically, you get a foreign operator, who speaks broken English, and has 2-3 answers they keep repeating.  Regardless of the question.

    Their exec pay and their complete disdain for the CWS, are disgusting.  The CWA made that company.   That, and good products with good customer service.

    It used to be bragging to say you worked for “the phone company.”  Those jobs were good, and honroed…folks worked hard to get and keep them.  Now, it’s AT&T, and it’s a joke.  At best.

    They’ve run some new high-speed lines in some spots in town.  A lineworker told me last summer they’d have to spend 20 X the money for ten years to get half the city properly-wired.  

  • M Theory

    Let’s not forget how the phone company treated businesses who advertised in the yellow pages.  Those businesses were gouged and held hostage when the phone book was the only game in town. 

    Supposedly consumers paid a tax surcharge on our bills to have a fiber optic network.  I heard AT&T pocketed the money and the fiber optics were never installed.

    Wouldn’t surprise me.  

  • Scooter

     The ‘OLD’ Ma Bell underwent what was called ‘divestiture’, (AMERITECH, NEX, PacBell, SBC, Southern Bell were the main results), at the order of the federal courts in the mid-eighties… and up ’till then they were the only game in town & charged what the market would bear.   Many may even remember having to lease the telephone handset from Bell, and in only one color. Black.

    The IURC now has a bunch of oversight on utilities, (electric, phone, gas, some cable), and rates are somewhat influenced by franchise fees, 911 fees, the ‘Gore Tax’, and state/federal taxes.

    Then there was the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (TA ’96), that flipped the apple cart once again.

    As far as throwing down fiber, it does not just happen.  I can not remember one instance where the City of Indianapolis or State of Indiana ‘gave’ taxpayer dollars to AMERITECH/SBC/AT&T, (or any other phone company) to place outside plant, with the exception of some minor tax abatement for service in extremely rural or remote areas.  The phone companies (and there are a couple dozen in the State, see;  http://www.in.gov/oucc/2492.htm )  pay local communities, counties & states dearly to provide wired & wireless to consumers, and I don’t mean in advertising either.

    If you made a phone call today, land line or cell, 99.9999% chance that call went over fiber along it’s routing.

  • Scooter

    Just an additional note…. AT&T South (the old Southern Bell) has it’s contract(s) expire in August….  is that why AT&T Midwest (the old AMERITECH) is working without a contract at this time?

  • hoosier

    1.   At the state level, very little regulation (if any) by the IURC.  Go look at 1279 passed a few years ago.   2.   ATT (Indiana) didn’t take a position on the right to work bill because it had such a good relationship with CWA.   hmm.

  • Scooter

    I believe it was HB 1280, and it was about 8 years ago.  That allowed (what was SBC at that time) to really bring in it’s broadband & TV services by relieving some of the regulatory restrictions the State of Indiana had imposed, and those of local towns. Remediation fees (parametrically scaled fines) still exist, should performance #’s fall below certain levels set by the IURC. 

    CWA members & Management made there opinions felt by company trucks circling the state house (Dave Bursten was about to throw a fit), and a huge crowd inside the statehouse in support of that bill.

    That was all under the former CEO.  Many, on both sides, wish he was still in that seat….

    The Local here is pretty professional in it’s representation of it’s membership, I can attest to that, yet when the current CEO ‘drops’ billions of dollars in a failed take-over bid, (and only gives back a couple mil from his own compensation), and now expects the labor side to suck up that loss…. RTW ain’t gonna move forward to well… if anything it’s somewhat furthered the resolve of the membership.  

    As far as what was lost, and what was given back, that’s all out there for anyone to read.  Dallas newspapers are pretty hard to hide from when your company is headquartered there.