Ready For What?
In order to get Verizon to put together a fairly decent contract with CWA, it required the intervention of the federal government and a 45-day strike. It may be safely said that the likely reason that Verizon even listened to the feds and the CWA bargaining team is because the strike was beginning to take a toll on the corporate giant; in some cases, this tends to get CEO’s replaced rapidly soon thereafter. By all reports, the successful strike has transformed the workers and the communities in which they work. Why their communities? Because the business-owners in those communities now benefited from those brave workers’ enhanced salaries, which they immediately began to put back into those businesses. Why the workers? Check out the below quote from a Verizon striker:
“[A] lot of the important things that happened because of the strike won’t appear in the contract language, because they happened to the strikers themselves. For a section of the membership, it was a transformative experience where we really felt our power. And it was obvious that this came from our personal participation and the widespread popular support for the strike.” (full article here)
Of course, nobody wants a strike. But I feel we have to believe the evidence of our own eyes: In recent years, in AND out of bargaining, like Verizon AT&T has not responded either timely nor with seriousness to many of CWA’s concerns. It is becoming more clear that we may have to use our biggest weapon in 2018 bargaining. I think that will be easier if we start now! Here is a simple 3-sterp plan that will immediately begin to effect your next contract – over a year before bargaining starts.
- Starting now, put $10 dollars away every single day. This is your personal strike-fund, which will supplement the CWA strike-pay provided by the International.
As I write this, there are 400 days until our contract ends. 400 days X $10=$4,000 strike-fund. This amount would provide financial security for several weeks, should a strike last that long. If by some chance the contract is extended (i.e. we are working without a contract), every member of our Local will be armored by this money (I like to call it Fairness and Unity money). We will all have financial flexibility to help our bargaining team by e.g. withholding voluntary overtime for a couple of days; participating in what I predict to be many grievance-strikes (which are unpaid); or, if we feel too ill to come to work during bargaining and AT&T unfairly docks our sick-pay!
- View your AT&T personnel file. Doing so is allowed by both AT&T policy and Michigan state law.
Why? You should do this twice a year no matter what. Before bargaining, it is good idea to be sure all past discipline that was removed thanks to grievance settlements has been removed by your manager as per AT&T policy. Then, it can’t be “accidentally” used by your manager to intimidate during bargaining actions.
- Keep your nose clean and attendance acceptable. The best way to do this is by following every policy and working extremely safely.
This is not usually a problem for most of our members. However, it is easy to be confused by constantly shifting expectations and priorities. For this reason, we encourage all members to request a steward if your manager is questioning about anything you reasonably believe may cause discipline. (What doesn’t these days?) If directed to deviate from a written policy, ask your manager to put his directive in writing via email.
By taking these three steps, we empower ourselves, our fellow workers, and our future CWA bargaining team.
Tina Culver, President
CWA Local 4009