In early January, discussions began in Facebook groups regarding AT&T announcing surpluses in different parts of the country in the title of Premises Technician. We have heard of surpluses before, but this time it seems to be something all together different. Reports that have came out of CWA’s District 4 have indicated that, unlike all other surpluses that we have experienced, this time AT&T was not using seniority as the determining factor for this force reduction. From information that I have received from our District 3 leadership, it is now known that AT&T has, once again, decided to interpret language in its contracts with CWA in a totally different way than what was previously understood and practiced for many, many years.
Section 6.03 (Force Adjustment) of the U-verse Field Operations Network Addendum states, “Whenever force conditions, as determined by the Company, are considered to warrant a surplus and the possible layoff of employees, the Company shall notify the Union in writing, prior to notifying the affected employees. Employees will be laid off in a process to be determined by the Company based on the needs of the business and all business needs being equal, such adjustments shall occur in inverse order of seniority.” This language is identical to the language found in Appendix F, Section 7.03 (Force Adjustment) of CWA’s contract with AT&T Midwest. According to our District 3 leadership, AT&T has taken the position that the phrase “all business needs being equal” gives them the right to use criteria other than seniority to determine the employees who will be surplused. For the current Premises Technician surplus that is underway to our north, the Company has used attendance and performance metrics to identify its surplused employees. CWA District 4 has filed an Executive Level Grievance against AT&T opposing this interpretation and we are still awaiting news of any developments in that case.
Some of you may know, on June 6, 2017, CWA received a surplus notification stating that 22 Wire Technicians in the Technical Field Services department (TFS) was declared surplus in Kentucky in order to consolidate the said positions to the Internet & Entertainment Field Services department (IEFS). However, to date, we have not seen a surplus in District 3 declared with the intent to actually reduce the headcount in the title of Wire Technician. Although it was revealed at a Network Operations LGP meeting in December (2017) that management felt that there was an excess number of Wire Technicians in Kentucky, the Company stated that there was no plan to declare a surplus, as the normal attrition rate was expected to lower the headcount to the Company’s desired level. Even though the Company has held to this position, CWA District 3 has already taken steps towards filing its own Executive Level Grievance to preempt any action that AT&T would take in our district that was similar to the current Premises Tech surplus underway in District 4.
Once additional details are released on either of these two grievances, the Local will forward the information to our members via this website and the Local’s Facebook group pages. Please be assured that CWA intends to make every effort to overturn this decision and correct this violation of our members’ seniority rights. STAY CWA STRONG!