Communications Workers Of America Local 9423

IN THE TRENCHES AT 521

Hello this is a new attempt to keep our membership at 521 aware of what is going on around the local. We understand that as workers in the labor movement you truly are “in the trenches” doing the work that keeps the labor movement alive. This makes it hard to attend meetings at times when many of you are out mobilizing members or beating the street on organizing drives. Some issues we are currently facing at 521 and what we are doing about it.

  1. Transformation committee. The management at 521 decided to create a transformation committee. Then they graciously decided that they (not CWA) would choose the CWA members on this committee. We see things a little differently and adamantly demanded they allow any member selection to be done by your union not your management. Additional issues with this situation came to surface when some members were told by management that the bargaining committee meetings were confidential. Management doesn’t want our members knowing WHO says WHAT in these meetings.We have sent a cease and desist letter accompanied with a board charge to 521. This is not about WHO is on the committee as much as it is about WHO chooses CWA representatives per the contract.  As we all know it is completely unacceptable for management to select representatives from the bargaining unit. I expect a resolution to this situation should be in the near future.

  2. Blitzing. We know 521’s plan of the future includes blitzes, blitzes and more blitzes. This was evident in bargaining when a proposal was floated to CWA. This proposal had a significant contingency: 521 would be able to have as many “major mobilizations” as they wanted (currently limited to three per year Art 33 pg 19) needless to say that became a non starter. This did however, tell us a lot about what they wanted to do, why else would they want unlimited major mobilizations where they block out vacation dates require specific hours etc. Currently some of our members have been informed there will be a weeklong blitz in Tulare county. So before I am asked: yes I consider this a major mobilization. So we have to keep track of the major mobilizations we are required to participate in. This brings us to the next item.

  3. FLSA.  We have a number of members who feel that the employees of 521 are not truly exempt employees. A grievance has been filed to get to the bottom of this issue. There has always been tension over the way 521 interprets this exempt status. They acknowledge our members “at times” work excessive hours. This is convenient when our folks are working 60(or more) hours in a week. However there isn’t the same understanding if you work 20 hours in a week….no that requires using personal time i.e. vacation, comp time, etc. Thus we will have this one play out through the official process. First knock at a given time, Last knock at a given time, then the exhilarating debrief. These days often exceed 12 or 13 or even 14 hours. This was never the intention either expressed or agreed to. The “professional nature of this work” as referenced in article 33 of the contract was recognizing the reality we face as union representatives; phone calls after hours where a member needs assistance for any host of issues. Phone calls and emails before hours for the aforementioned crises. No, this is not a 40 hour a week 9-5 job. This is also not an 80 hour a week sweat shop job. Somewhere 521 has gotten very off track with the way this actually supposed to work. For now that’s a wrap. Thank you for your support. In unity     Robert Hogue

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