Close to 400 AT&T technicians were not on the job Friday. Instead, they were demonstrating against what they say are unfair labor practices against union workers.
The workers gathered and marched outside an AT&T facility in southwest Bakersfield.
Members of the Communications Workers of America demonstrated against an e-mail sent by a local AT&T network operations manager that, they believe, threatened them with their jobs. Union members called it an “unfair labor practice” to threaten them with their livelihoods.
The e-mail scolds union workers for placing union activities above serving customers, before suggesting that sort of activity could cost the company customers, and, in turn, jobs.
17 News obtained a copy of the e-mail in question from the CWA. It reads as follows:
Recently, Union activity has caused some of you to make a choice not to serve our customers. Given comments I have heard from many of you regarding the importance of providing good customer service, I'm a bit puzzled about why you would leave customers without service we committed we would provide them.
The company doesn't suffer. In fact, these actions help us financially when we don't pay you. It hurts your pocketbook, but mostly it hurts our customers. Some of these customers may have taken the day off, unpaid, to wait for us to arrive. When we don't meet our commitment to them, they can look for other service providers. Once they leave us, they may never return. Fewer customers means fewer jobs. These customers are critical to us and our future.
We can all agree that serving our customers is our primary focus. Let's work out our differences without affecting our customers.
Just my personal opinion...
Vice President - West Core I&M
AT&T Network Operations
17 News contacted AT&T for a statement about the dispute, but a spokesperson declined to address the dispute directly, instead issuing this statement:
“I can tell you that we’re currently working with the union to resolve the issue and get the employees back to work as soon as possible,” said spokesperson Marty Richter.
Richard Moe, spokesperson for the CWA union, denied that union employees had let their union activities get in the way of their jobs. “We show up to work every day, you know, rain, snow, or sun shining,” he said. “We work long hours, late hours, and weekends.”
Moe says the e-mail is just an attempt to break the union’s spirit. “[AT&T] is trying to currently censor what it is we are doing, and we’re not happy about it. So we’re out to let everybody know,” he said.
In the meantime, customers should not worry about the current labor dispute interfering with their service, according to AT&T’s Marty Richter.
“We’re a company that places a very high priority on customer service, and we’ve always prepared for all contingencies,” he said. “We’re going to make every effort to make sure our customers get the great service they’re accustomed to.”