Verizon Manager Speaks Out Against Engineers Organizing
Posted On: Jul 07, 2015
...And Engineers Respond!!
Response To Verizon
Verizon has recently communicated their opening message to the Engineering Team regarding the Engineers’ efforts to organize. The letter lays out Ed Gee’s thoughts and that of management as it relates to our campaign to collectively bargain for things like Job Security. Interesting frame of reference, as this was the same group that “thanked” the Engineers for voting NO the last time by having a pizza party on Friday and announcing a RIF on the following Monday. Their intentions are transparent and their communications are clearly not in the best interest of the Engineers. Especially in light of recent announcements of an upcoming RIF. With that being said, we wanted to take the time to respond to a few of Ed Gee’s written remarks. The following excerpts were taken from Verizon’s letter to the Engineers. Our response is in Green.
“It has come to my attention that the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) is once again asking you to support its attempt to unionize your group.” The IBEW has responded to multiple requests from the engineers to assist us in organizing our workplace. It is our campaign. Representatives of the IBEW are helping us accomplish our goal.
“While l do understand that the IBEW has the right to do this, it is a serious issue that I feel must be addressed.” The right to organize, sign cards and bargain collectively is our right under Federal law as employees. That has nothing to do with the IBEW.
“The union wants you to sign its Representation Authorization" cards. Whether or not you sign a card is entirely up to you. However, please understand that the IBEW's card is a legal document. It designates them as your exclusive legal agent to deal with the Company on your wages, hours and conditions of employment.” To organize our workplace, we have to show interest. To show interest, we have to sign cards. The National Labor Relations Board (Federal Agency) requires the cards to determine the interest of the engineers to join together and bargain collectively.
“…when you sign a card, you are authorizing the union to be your representative without necessarily going through any National Labor Relations Board election process. In addition, recent changes to National Labor Relations Board procedures have dramatically shortened the time period within which an election will be held. If the union requests one, it will result in an abbreviated opportunity for employees to ask questions and evaluate information necessary to make this very serious decision.” Recent changes have shown that the average time between petition and election in our region has gone from 45 days to 25 days. This is plenty of time to gather information. Additionally, we have been talking about this for years and are smart enough to make our own decisions regarding our future.
“I understand that you are concerned about contracting and job security, among other issues. Dramatic changes are continuing to transform our business landscape.” We, more than anyone, understand the dramatic changes in the industry. What we can no longer live with is Verizon’s decision to change the workforce by eliminating loyal, hard-working Engineers through RIFS and filling our jobs with contractors. Verizon has chosen to operate like that over the years. We are choosing to do something different.
"Representation by a union can't change the current competitive landscape and can neither guarantee job security nor the elimination of contract work.” We are smart enough to know that there are no guarantees in life. As Engineers, we also know that the best predictor of future behavior, is past performance. Without a collective bargaining agreement, our workforce has been decimated. In 2008, when the company held a pizza party to thank us for not joining together, we had close to 300 colleagues eligible to vote in that election. Now, we have less than 150. We had no guarantee then, we have no guarantee now. At least for the price of a signature, we have a fighting chance
to negotiate for a guarantee.
“One only has to look at the recent FairPoint contract. Following an over four month strike, the IBEW lost significant contracting and job security protections, and settled for a total wage increase of 3% over a 4 year period, with no increase for the first 2 years.” This is very disingenuous. To compare a company like Fairpoint that was saddled with debt, has a history of bankruptcy and very little operational revenue to Verizon; is like comparing the local corner store to Market Basket. You work for Verizon, not Fairpoint. Your colleagues represented by the IBEW at Verizon have job security, contracting language and a growing defined benefit pension. Verizon engineers, in spite of your years of service, expertise and dedication do not.
“NLRB guidelines do permit a union to promise almost anything in order to gain support, as long as threats or violence are not used. However, employers are held to a much different standard. Employers are expressly prohibited from making any promises or discussing what, if anything, might change in the future.” The NLRB maintains that workers today are sophisticated enough to know fact from fiction in an organizing campaign and will not get involved unless threats or violence are used. That standard applies to both the union and the company. In regards to the assertion that employers cannot discuss what if anything might change, is there any engineer who has not heard the statement that “your relationship with your manager will change if you vote for a union”? Be careful indeed.
“So be careful when considering any promises from the IBEW about job protections, contracting limitations, or other issues such as benefit improvements. Even if a union represented you, it could deliver only those promises that both parties agree to.” EXACLTY! BINGO! Edward Gee makes a great point here when he points out that “both parties” must agree. This is exactly why we are doing this. As of today, we have no right to even discuss things like job security, pensions, benefits or contracting language with the company, never mind having the right to agree or disagree. For the price of a signature, we have the opportunity to change that. Becoming a union member holds only one promise…. a voice in our future.
“Your managers and I are here to answer any questions or concerns you may have. Please feel free to reach out to them or give me a call.” It is imperative that we understand all of the facts and gather as much information as we can. The IBEW organizers Steve Smith 978.302.3690 and Paul Feeney 617.930.8729 are available to answer questions 24/7 and will meet with us anywhere at any time. Please take an active role in protecting our future.