AT&T & CWA Play Chicken

April 4th, 2009 by · 15 Comments

onstrike1Tonight, the current contract between AT&T (NYSE:T, news, filings) and the Communications Workers of America expires, and I don't think anyone really expects the two sides to agree to a new one before it does.  After all, that's what deadlines are for right? (Just ask the FCC.)  Yep, we all get to watch yet another game of union chicken, and yet doesn't it feel a bit scripted?  We get to watch them posture over tired old issues, then blame each other for not playing nice both before and after the inevitable short strike of a few days or hours, and finally come to the backroom deal we all know they will reach.

Do they really mean it this time?  By they I mean both sides of course... Are we in danger of a prolonged dispute?  I very seriously doubt it, there is little to be gained.  In this economy, both sides would quickly be blamed for fiddling while Rome burns.  But they both have to pretend like there is something at stake, so they don't look weak.  It feels almost like two schoolyard boys who have to fight or lose face, but don't really want to - so they put on a bit of a show and make sure a teacher (let's just call him Mr. 'O') is nearby to break it up.

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15 Comments So Far


  • Anonymous says:

    deadline approaching?

  • Union employee says:

    Obviously you don’t work for this company and your family isn’t being affected by it! Try putting your life on hold while your waiting to see if this cat and mouse game pans out so that you have a job when its all over! I would suggest you check out the district 6 website and see what is at stake for these hard working families!

  • Rob Powell says:

    You’re right, I’m not affected by it directly. I’m sure I’d be feeling much greater stress if I were.

    But with all due respect, I fight for my job, health insurance, and retirement benefits every day, and I have to support my family just like anyone else, I know precisely what is at stake. I just haven’t given control of my situation over to someone else.

    FWIW, I think AT&T will blink, their position is politically questionable. They just need an external reason to back down.

  • The_Highwayman says:

    Union employee,
    I get sick to death of some of you. You take hours to dispatch and test and work trouble tickets, never make a FOC date, look for any excuse to fail to deliver and when big bad managment lowers the boom it is always “their” fault for being greedy, etc….

    I am in the industry and pay for my benefits, etc and we deliver and service when we are suppossed to.

    the only thing at stake for the family is you have to ante up like the rest of us.

    if I worked for BELL you would have to peel both hands off the 5ESS cabinet, there is no way I would be striking, threatening to stirke, etc.

    you all come across as spoiled little kids in an economy where hundreds would gladly step in and do your job for 1/2 of what you union folks get, because a JOB is better than NOTHING!

    and yes UE I have worked at AT&T and yes management has issues, but at the end of the day stop with the sky is going to fall talk…

    be thankful for what you do have, get in the company truck and go do the company work and if you cannot live with that go color somehwere else and give shot that would love to earn a good wage, gladly pay a fair amount for their benefits and get in the company truck

  • Parkite says:

    Does Union Employee work for GM or ATT? I can’t tell. A sense of entitlement is poison.

  • Fierce says:

    I think everyone is greedy because at&t wants to take jobs away from american people and pay some stupid india idiot that cant even speak english properly that we cant even understand

    • Global District 6 says:

      Highwayman:

      Would you like a 40% pay cut…….for NO reason. I am a divorced single parent of 4….SOLE PROVIDER….yes, I receive child support. If you saw downtown Dallas where I was previously located and ALL of reconstruction….you would be appalled. Stephenson moved a 3 million dollar STATUE from NY to Dallas for over 30,000. CWA knows about the economy and no we do not want to offend anyone that is currently without a job….come on now….do you think we are that stupid….do you think we do not know that are plently of people that would want our positions…..try looking at the CWA District 6 website and see what AT&T wants to do to any NEW hires…we are fighting for that also. I paid 6k out of pocket with our wonderful insurance. AND yes….I met a PREMIS tech….that did not speak ENGLISH….in my prodominently Non-Hispanic neighborhood…..NEVER have I seen that before. In busisness office….NOOOOOOO….bilingual REPS….how do you conduct business and do not speak ENGLISH in AMERICA….US? AT&T is lowering standards so that can hire people in at $11.00 dollars an hour…..how long would you work an 11.00 an hour job while sitting next to someone who has put in their time in title…and makes 20-25.00 dollars an hour…..not long I am sure….arent you tired of having people in India “helping” you????? (those jobs where jobs mostly in the states in the states……??) Why would you want all of your information all over the world…..????? Why wouldnt you want US workers to take care of things like your credit cards….fininacial information……manufacturing your children’s toys or maybe your grandchildrens toys….WRITE to your government officials…..If a CORP messes over UNIONS….what do you think will happen next to non-UNION jobs????? How will the CEO’s TREAT those American workers???? GET THE BIG PICTURE.

  • The_Highwayman says:

    I was working with a AT&T collo specialist yesterday and she said she really did not want to strike. She mentioned NOW is not the time to strike, but that managment is sticking to their guns on this one.

    I asked her if she would cross the line and work and she stated she joined 19 years ago and this will probably be the first time she does cross.

    She mentioned the CWA’s only “real” bargaining chip is really Obama and a democratic congress and senate, BUT the CWA is being far too arrogant about that position. She thinks the CWA is going to show up the UAW and prove they have a better union

    The CWA in her opinion is playing games with every member, while management has made no bones about outright firing people if they do strike.

    she stated her decision has still not been 100% made, but she is very concerned that management has the upper hand on this one and have done things like brining more jobs from overseas and believe that with unemployement up as high as it is, they could replace many without issue.

    her last statement hits the nail on the head. She stated that paying more than 8% for her health benefits and contributing more of her wage to her own pension & 401K is better than having no benefits….and worse no job.

    it’s going to be interesting to watch this unfold and see who blinks first, had T taken any kind of guvvie stimulus I would think management would blink first here, but I think managment is in a position to force concessions or simply lock out and fire and not one politician could make enough noise to stop it. Particularly when you consider how many are unemployed and would gladly take 1/2 of what members get and go to work.

    I may be totallyw rong, I ahve been before, but the CWA needs to be careful here imho and not over reach or get to arrogant, which many I know at T say is happening…

  • Clevus says:

    T also has its share of arrogance. I hear their strike contingency plan training is pretty much a joke. A strike would not in all liklihood kill them, but a bunch of forward motion would sure be lost.

  • Union supporter says:

    I have worked for AT&T for 13 years. My father retired from the company, as did my grandfather. Highwayman, if you need to be peeled off from a 5ess it’s because us union folk have worked hard to keep our benefits and pay to a livable standard. Otherwise Bell jobs would be just as substandard with regard to pay and benefits as most “middle class” jobs have become. I think if unions were stronger in other work areas we would have a lot less billionares and a lot more middle class.

  • The_highwayman says:

    Clevus,
    I am not saying management is not arrogant either, both sides have to compromise

    Union Supporter,
    I worked for T long enough to know it was not my cup of tea at all. I was occupational and was looked down on by many other techs, because I could knock out 3x the amount of installs and no issues working OT and never played games. My foreman hated me, because I needed to “slow” down save some work up, stop making everyone “look” bad, don’t let management think you “can” work

    It sucked and it had nothing to do with keeping a livable wage or keeping benefits it smacked of entitlement and slothfulness to a point I quit.

    Telecom pays very well and I make do very well right now and always have and I don’t need the CWA to safe guard my pay and benefits, tell me which class I can take and then have to wait until those with seniority to attend first.

    My 5E comment was tongue in cheek more than anything.

    I respect what you are saying but honestly speaking technology is a large part of what is eroding the union ranks, not big bad nasty management.

    you obviously know that technology has probably erased jobs more than the desire to ease pension obligations.

    Unions make nothing better my friend, they breed entitlement based mind set that the global economy cannot work around.

    you may be different, but if I had a dime for every time a bellhead union braggart showed up late, pushed the work ticket, changed FOC, claimed it could not be done, stopped working if one thing was wrong with order, wether service was restored or not I would not be working today.

    I have yet to meet any union bell tech that has an upbeat and can do attitude, that ocmes to work ready to roll to get R done!

    Instead its the same slow approach to delivering service, taking breaks, etc.

    How much do you think a good tech is worth?
    $25, $35, $45 an hour!?!?

    how do you define middle class now?

    How do you live with and let a middleman that takes a percentage of your take home pay, make decisions on your behalf and allow them to think for you and come up with what is fair for you!?!?

    When I became Cisco certifed (on my own)years and years ago I landed a job 3x the hourly pay I was making as a middle band ISP tech in the bell CO and I negotiated my own benefits package including 6 weeks of PTO granted on day 1. I can take care of my own retirement thank you very much.

    it would have taken me another 5 years to achieve that same pay band and fringe within the Union.

    In telecom, it is not seniority or unions that get you paid, it’s your knowledge

    Unions do a great job at giving you just enough entitlement and security that you become a slave.

    self reliance, motivation and education propel you.

    If you want to do 8am-4pm no OT, no advancement, and live like a drone have fn with that.

    I would rather be directly involved in my career progression and that of those that work for me.

    good luck and fwiw I hope you all do not strike, I hate working outages with T managers acting like a “tech”

  • Anonymous says:

    I wonder how much of the top brass will be left if a work stoppage occurs and thousands leave wireline and u-verse due to service issues. As a shareholder, almost 13 billion is enough profit and the share earnings from dividends were a tidy sum. Don’t threaten my take this year due to a stoppage. Compared to most, we are doing great!

  • Cisco Jockey says:

    Bottom line here is that T made a profit last year, almost 13 billion. That is of course after they moved the HQ and bought the top execs houses in San Antonio. Their profit was so greatthat it was the largest ever recorded at T. They should be fair to the workers…they helped make the profit

    • anonymous says:

      A company is supposed to make profit. It is not a non-profit endeavor and to qualify a company having been successful one year to mean it should automatically give everyone a raise it’s ridiculous. If you want a share of the profit, buy company stock. This is the part I have never understood about the union mentality. You are contracted to do a job. Nothing more, nothing less. For your service and labor, you are paid a fee(salary). If you don’t like it, you should have the complete freedom and take your expertise elsewhere and get paid what the market will bear.
      You have a problem with a company taking jobs overseas, STOP supporting that company by buying their product and service!! Simple!!.

      I wonder how many are forced to keep the same landscaping company or are forced to attend the same car wash outfit because you “hired” their service once.

      A very simple fact is: You don’t owe the company any loyalty and neither they owe you anything. It’s a simple business arrangement. If that arrangement goes sour, walk away. The market will bear what the market will bear.

      • Global District 6 says:

        Anonymous:

        Get the BIG picture….you almost have it. You are right about supporting businesses that remove jobs from the US…..but AT&T did rely on the LOYALTY of it’s CWA workers. How do you think AT&T is able to BUY up these other companies….off of WIRELINE employee’s and previous management’s respect for the business and it’s CWA’s workers. As far as the “market” bearing US walking away…..no, I do not think so…..who do you think does the provisioning and orders for other Telco companies….AT&T workers….because AT&T owns the NETWORK…SOOOOOOOOOOOO, just about every TELCO company would be affected…..guess what I have a new job within the company and guess which company I will be supporting……VERIZON….and I refuse to purchase any more AT&T products…NOOOOOO…U-Verse for me and NOOOOOOOO AT&T cell phones….only DIAL TONE….and my Internet…..DIAL TONE…because we have a 99.9 percent reliable network…and I have children…..need to be able to dial 911 for sure…..and dial out during a storm…..CABLE AND CELL not Reliable. Do you know what I have heard several manager’s say when a customer (GLOBAL) says when they want to switch….let them…they will be back…..and they do……AND YES I am going back to SCHOOL….to complete my DEGREE…..because this is a HOT MESS….need one more year….and after 2 yrs….if the economy is better…I am out of there….because the people they are hiring…especially in SALES…which I support…..are poorly trained….FCC sets the standards for the due dates….and believe you me…..we follow them…and often exceed them……because they WILL come in and investigate AND PENALIZE AT&T if dates on certain products are not met and YOU as an individual will be investigated and questioned about your training and have to be held accountable….better have documentation.

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