The following is a Constitutional change that is being presented today on the CWA Convention floor. District 9 is bringing this constitutional change forward in an attempt to fix the ongoing problem concerning the different CWA districts getting whipsawed by AT&T every round of bargaining.
2017 PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS:
Article XII- Officers and Their Duties
Section 4-Vice Presidents-District, Telecom and Technology
Telecommunications; Public, Health Care and Education Workers and CWA Sectors
(No other changes recommended for this Section.)
Section 5—Telecom and Technology Telecommunications Sector Vice President
For those bargaining units of Telecommunications employees other than AT&T, Verizon, Qwest, Avaya, AT&T Mobility, Alcatel-Lucent and OFS, Windstream, Frontier, Century Link and their subsidiaries and affiliates. The Telecom & Technology Telecommunications Sector Vice President shall be responsible, under the direction of the Executive Board, for coordinating matters of common concern and interest with respect to contracts, wages, hours of employment and other working conditions within the units.
The Telecom & Technology Telecommunications Vice President shall be responsible for bargaining in those bargaining units. which are system-wide or national in scope as determined by the Executive Board.
Marisa Remski, President
Pam Suniga, AT&T Bargaining Committee Member
Art Gonzalez, President
Anthony Velez, AT&T Bargaining Committee Member
In 2012-2016, Contract negotiations with AT&T demonstrated that having six separate bargaining unit tables, each with its own authority to bargain and reach a settlement notwithstanding the impact on other units, impeded the union’s ability to achieve the maximum benefits for our members. In fact, it was a divisive round of bargaining for CWA. With separate bargaining units, each with separate authority to accept and recommend a tentative agreement, we experienced cross-district discord when one unit reached a settlement while the others remained left to the fight.
In 2013, some measures were implemented by the Bargaining Council to avoid this kind of negative experience and we jointly committed to closely coordinate AT&T negotiations. The reality is that the separate authority vested in each Vice President to direct the negotiations at their own bargaining tables undermined our ability to maintain a unified front. The need for greater and more effective communications and coordination within CWA on behalf of our members in the telecommunications industry is apparent.
Section 3—Bargaining Councils in Telecom
(c) The bargaining councils will designate certain issues as “National Issues.” To be so designated, an issue must affect CWA-represented workers in multiple CWA Districts/Sectors.
(d) The bargaining resolution of a National Issue requires the agreement of all District/Sector Vice Presidents of CWA Districts/Sectors with at least one constituent local with a representative on the bargaining council.
(e) National Issues shall remain so designated unless all the District/Sector Vice Presidents of all CWA Districts/Sectors with at least one constituent local with a representative on the bargaining council decide otherwise.
(f) No District/Sector Vice President may unilaterally accept, change and/or delete any proposal, issue, and/or agenda items designated a National Issue by the bargaining council unless all District/Sector Vice Presidents so agree or the President of the Union overrules the Vice Presidents and so agrees.
(g) District/Sector Vice Presidents may not authorize or approve a collective bargaining agreement containing a National Issue if the resolution of that National Issue has not been agreed to by all the District/Sector Vice Presidents with at least one constituent local with a representative on the bargaining council.
(h) If the relevant District/Sector Vice Presidents are unable to reach agreement on the resolution of a National Issue, only the President of CWA can end the impasse and decide how to deal with the issue.
We should elect one Vice President for Telecommunications Sector and go further by establishing and empowering a new, stronger and unified Telecommunications Sector within CWA. The new authority of the Telecom Vice President should include all the bargaining and representational responsibilities currently held by the T&T, Telecommunications and District Vice Presidents with respect to representation of telecommunications industry employees. Therefore, those eligible for voting for this new Vice President should include not only those delegates representing the T&T and Telecommunications bargaining units of today, but also all other delegates who represent telecommunications employees, including employees at Verizon, AT&T Core, AT&T Mobility, Quest, Avaya, Alcatel-Lucent and OFS, Windstream,Frontier, Century Link and their subsidiaries.
This scope of authority means the new Telecommunications Vice President would have responsibility to direct bargaining for all units of AT&T, AT&T Mobility, Verizon, Quest, Avaya, Alcatel-Lucent and OFS, Windstream, Frontier, Century Link and their subsidiaries and affiliates. Under the direction of the Executive Board, the new Telecommunications Vice President would be responsible for coordinating matters of common concern and interest with respect to contracts, wages, hours of employment and other working conditions for these bargaining units. This office could also provide a needed focus for guiding negotiations with rural telecom, cable and satellite television, wireless and other employers in the telecommunications industry.
Once the Telecommunication Sector is established, the Executive Board should re-assign from the T &T, Telecommunications and District offices all the appropriate financial administrative and personnel resources to the Telecommunications Sector, enabling the new Telecommunications Vice President to successfully carry out the duties of this new office.
The change in responsibilities would not require a wholesale change in our current District operations. In fact, in the absence of extraordinary circumstances, it is anticipated that the traditional bargaining processes would continue. That is, bargaining decision for a unit wholely contained within a single Local’s jurisdiction would be deferred to the Local and bargaining decision for units shared by more than one Local would be deferred to the District. What would be new, is that where a contract covers more than one District, or when simultaneous negotiations occur for multiple contracts with the same employer, the Telecommunications Sector Vice President would retain jurisdiction and coordinate decision making.
Districts must play an increasingly key role in the administration of the various contracts that fall within District boundaries as well as the mobilization and education of the membership in all aspects of the CWA Triangle. Their responsibilities do not change because of this proposal. The value added is that during contract negotiations, the new Telecommunication Sector will facilitate CWA’s ability to speak with a single voice when dealing with the multi-state and global companies of today and in the future.
Only minor amendments to our Constitution are required to establish a Telecommunications sector with a single Vice President just as other Sectors are now described in our Constitution. A supporting resolution will further clarify the intent of these constitutional changes and guide the Executive Board in the establishment of the new Telecommunications Sector.
A new Telecommunications Sector with a Vice President focused solely on the members working in the industry that founded this great union is what is called for, now more than ever.