Business Manager’s Report
As 2017 concludes, it is a perfect time to reflect on the past year in an effort to learn and grow from it. Throughout the year, Our Local, was extremely active in the community, politically, and with solidarity events. We also spent a great deal of time organizing. With Verizon, it has been busy to say the least.
In the community, we have donated a great deal to children’s sports (sponsoring teams), dance recitals, cheerleading, etc. In addition, we have given back to the Rhode Island Food Bank, VFW’s, Hasbro Children’s Hospital, The Tomorrow Fund and many other Community groups. Our efforts in the community are an effort to change the perception of Unions and for branding purposes, as well as garner support for our inevitable future battles with Verizon….. To have a friend you have to be a friend.
In the political arena, we helped get our Brother in New Hampshire, Kevin Cavanaugh elected to the state Senate. Kevin was the first Democrat to win the New Hampshire state Senate special election since 1984. In Massachusetts, we helped get our Brother Paul Feeney elected to the state Senate. Recently, our Political Action Committee voted to endorse Representative Aaron Regunberg for the office of Lt. Governor. Just before Thanksgiving, our Local, along with the Teamsters, SEIU, Working Families Party, and the Amalgamated Transit Union held a press conference to give Aaron our endorsement.
Year after year, we make a conscious effort to put together numerous solidarity events in an attempt to get our members and their families together. It is imperative that we don’t just know each other from picket lines every few years. We also strive to make sure our children have a positive view of unions and ultimately bring unions back to the dinner table. This year we held a Family Night at the Pawtucket Red Sox, our annual golf tournament, the Mayweather vs McGregor fight, a movie night, our 2nd Annual Trunk or Treat Halloween Party, Christmas Tree Lighting with Santa, and our upcoming Christmas party on December 16th. We are always open to suggestions for additional events.
According to the IBEW Constitution, every Local must organize the unorganized in the electrical industry. Over the years, that has evolved in to organizing any worker. This year we have spent a considerable amount of time trying to organize many different workers. Just to name a few, we have had contact with workers from COX Communications, call center workers from Bank of America, and Charter/Spectrum workers in Connecticut. Organizing is going to be our lifeline, and we need each and every members’ help in this endeavor.
Within the four walls of Verizon we have been exhausted by all of the ripple effects due to the Boston build, the new Joint Pole Agreement, the ups and downs of the scheduling in our FSC, from forced on Sundays to most recently surplus time being offered, surplus declarations including the recent Super EIPP, scheduling for our SST’s and COT’s and the wide-ranging discipline.
We recently met with the DRC Director in Medway to discuss numerous scheduling issues for our SST’s. The outcome consisted of a committee to be established to address the issues. There have been a few exchanges since the meeting to ensure we have all the appropriate players in the room when we meet. As more info becomes available we will be sure to share it.
In the coming weeks, we will have more new hirers added to the Fiber Solutions Center. We are the ONLY Local to grow more jobs than what is contractually mandated. We view this as a huge success and encourage our members to do the same. It is because of their hard-work we can create more opportunity and jobs.
Last week, the Massachusetts Locals were notified by the Department of Labor that they have lost their unemployment appeal. The System Council T-6 is in the process of determining the next move. With the recent decision, we are the ONLY Local, from Maine to Virginia, to have received unemployment insurance for our members during our recent work stoppage. Again, something we should share with our membership.
We mentioned at one of our recent meetings that we would like to get our members more engaged in organizing. I’m asking for some guidance to create a raffle yearly for any member who submits an organizing lead that goes to a vote. The raffle would have to be something of significance in order to drive our member’s involvement. It could be something similar to Verizon’s Lead to Succeed program.
This weekend, we have the McGregor vs Mayweather fight being held in our Union Hall. We anticipate that it will be a well attended event.
Effective the week of June 18th, our negotiated 2.5% pay increase will be reflected in your paycheck. It was just over a year ago that we took Verizon to task for what we rightfully deserve. Your hard work, dedication, and solidarity helped us prevail in our labor battle. While it is great to reap the rewards, we are asking for all members to prepare for what is just a short two years away. There are no guarantees in life therefore it is imperative we take the necessary steps to prepare accordingly.
On Monday, June 5th we held a meeting in the Union hall for all OPT’s to attend and discuss the New Joint-Pole Ownership Agreement between Verizon and National Grid. This new agreement has led to many questions by our members. The System Council T-6 will meet with Verizon Labor Relations to discuss this new Joint-Pole Agreement on June 15th. We will be sure to get the information to our members immediately following that meeting.
The Union has recently sent an information request to DRC Management specifically regarding vacation and EWD time. We have requested the vacation selection process, who has taken time off from June 6th through Sept. 1st including all members who are wait listed, and all members who have taken short notice EWD time. In addition to the information request, we have reached out to both Directors, again, to schedule a meeting to discuss the ongoing problems with our members getting time-off. We will be sure to communicate the outcome of the that meeting.
The Union continues to work to improve the moral in the FSC. The Union and management meant on Friday 6/2 for a quarterly moral meeting. Many topics were discussed including the increasingly aggressive discipline of members as a customer mistreat.
The Union contends management has abandoned any coaching and development and moves right to suspension of members who are otherwise excellent employees. Management has taken our concerns under advisement.
Beyond the morale issue the union is still working diligently to improve the schedule. There is still work to be done, but we have begun to see management take steps in the right direction.
Recently Management has rolled out a new system, while burdensome, will make canvassing for shifts more transparent for our members. We are still working on a reduction of what we view as a heavy Saturday rotation.
WE are asking ALL members to help us support Teamsters Local 251 who are currently on strike against AIRGAS located at 120 Telmore Rd in East Greenwich and 522 Jefferson Blvd in Warwick. Last year, the Teamsters supported us on our picket lines, at our rallies, and financially during our strike. It is imperative that we do everything we can to help support them. Remember, in order to have a friend, we must be a friend. Teamsters Local 251 has ALWAYS been a great friend to us.
In addition to the Teamsters strike, there may be a two day strike at Twin River that will start early Friday morning, June 9th until Saturday, June 10th. Then on Tuesday, June 13th and Wednesday, June 14th the URI Adjunct Faculty will be holding an informational picket at the State House from 12:00- 3:00. Please make every effort to attend and support our friends in Labor! Remember, In order to have a friend you need to be a friend.
The Company is declaring a surplus under the provisions of Article G25 of the Labor Agreement. This notification includes a surplus in the departments job titles, bargaining units and locations as identified. This force surplus may necessitate involuntary permanent reassignment of regular employees to a different job title involving a reduction in pay, or to a location requiring a change of residence.
The Company will offer the provisions of an Enhanced Income Protection Plan (EIPP) to regular employees in the surplus job titles at the work locations involved.
EIPP offers will be distributed to the affect employees by May 9, 2017. An employee’s election to accept the offer must be in writing and transmitted to the Company within fifteen days from the date of the offer. The decision is irrevocable after such fifteen-day period (May 23, 2017). The final date of employment in this case for those accepted volunteers will be June 3, 2017.
The total surplus declared by the Company is 140.
In Local 2323, the surplus is 15.
4- AA’s in Pawtucket under Eddie Gee
3- COT’s in Providence under Chris Cook
3- CSA’s in Providence under Chris Cook
1- Driver B in Warwick under Frances Bowes
1- FA in Pawtucket under Eddie Gee
3- FNT’s in Providence under Chris Cook
Verizon Labor Relations has notified us of their intent to change the way they handle members who are on short term disability and elect to leave with an EIPP offer. In year’s past, those members off payroll date would be the day they return from short term disability. Going forward, the members who elect to take an EIPP offer will have an off payroll date of the EIPP offer but may continue with their short term disability. This change will stop members from accruing time while out on short term disability.
We have been notified by Labor Relations that National Grid and Verizon’s attorneys continue to work towards a new Joint Pole Agreement. We will be provided with the new agreement at some point with a meeting to follow shortly after.
In the Fiber Solutions Center, we continue to make progress with the recent schedule changes. While it has alleviated some pressure on our members and their families we still have work to do. In addition to the progress made on the schedules, we have finally been able to get Verizon Management to make all scheduling selections transparent for all in the center to see.
On May 15th, we will be meeting with Verizon Management in New York for a Call Sharing meeting. We will discuss the aggregate regional call volume percentage, the total number of New York/New England footprint Tech Support calls handled by Tech Support Centers, contractor locations and/or by individuals working at home, and the total number of calls handled by Tech Support Centers in the New York/New England footprint and/or employees working at home in the New York/New England footprint. In addition, we will be looking to discuss the scheduling in the Tech Support Centers.
On May 16th, the TCC-2 Officers will be meeting with Verizon’s top brass in Basking Ridge, New Jersey to discuss the direction of the Company. This Council represents all IBEW Locals throughout the country whose members work for Verizon.
On behalf of the Union Office and Executive Board we would like to thank everyone who helped donate and/or attended the Imagine Walk. We were able to sell over 250 t-shirts and according to Channel 12, we had the largest group in attendance for the walk. It is only possible when our members attend these events!
On May 21st, IBEW Local Union 2323 and Local Union 99 will again join forces and host our 3rd Annual Solidarity Ride. For more information please visit our website at www.ibew2323.org.
As we approach the one-year anniversary of our work-stoppage, it is important to acknowledge our strengths and weaknesses in order to be successful in the future. While our collective strength and solidarity was extremely important there were many other components that helped us. For starters, making the appropriate decisions to get our Local on firm financial ground was crucial. It is abundantly clear that Verizon wanted to bankrupt Locals throughout the bargaining process with 2011 bargaining lasting 18 months and 2015 bargaining lasting 12 months. On top of the related costs with bargaining, there are also legal costs associated with bargaining, a work-stoppage, and unemployment. In addition to the financial aspect, we worked diligently towards creating friendships throughout the Labor Community and politically. Our motto is “in order to have a friend, you have to be a friend”. We spent countless hours supporting other labor organizations during their struggles with the hope that they would support us during ours. As you are all aware, that theory came to fruition with the overwhelming support we got from organized Labor financially, politically, and on our picket-lines. We also had a well thought out plan with the media, healthcare professionals, and community services to help get our message out and to ensure our members had the resources they needed. We worked hard on increasing our efforts of communication and getting word out to our members through meetings, emails, our website, and social media. Lastly, we worked with the International and T-6 to establish a Solidarity Fund to help those members who had tremendous hardships.
Over the last few weeks, we have been monitoring the schedule changes in the Fiber Solutions Center to make sure the increase in Saturday’s and Sunday’s are warranted. We have a conference call scheduled on April 5th with WPA management to discuss the schedules, address some concerns, and discuss increased flexibility for our members. We identify the tremendous hardship these schedules have placed on our members and their families and are doing all we can to find the work/life balance. It is extremely unfortunate that Verizon Management couldn’t have completed the hiring, training, and equipping new members prior to reducing the Vendor headcount and placing this burden on our members.
Our scheduled meeting with the new Director of Dispatch was canceled due to a mandatory meeting in Philadelphia with his boss. We were able to address some areas of concern with the 2nd Level who handles the scheduling of our outside technicians in absence of the scheduled meeting. Vacation days, DU schedules, and transparency remain a top priority.
At this point, we have been notified by Labor Relations that National Grid and Verizon have signed a new Joint Pole Agreement recently. We will be provided with the new agreement at some point next week with a meeting to follow shortly after.
On Tuesday, April 11th, the System Council T-6 will be meeting with Verizon Labor Relations and Local Management involved in the Boston FiOS build. Our goal will be to get a clear plan of what to expect regarding bids, movement between Locals, and potential wire center changes. Today, we have received 3 more bids, which are results of the Boston build, (1) in South Kingstown and (2) in East Providence. The bids will be posted from 4/5/17 through 4/11/17.
After nearly 50 years of service to the IBEW and the North American organized labor movement, International Secretary-Treasurer Salvatore J. Chilia announced his retirement on March 20. Vice President Cooper, from the Fourth District, will succeed Secretary-Treasurer Chilia effective May 1st.
In addition to the Secretary Treasurer retiring, Vice President Segal of the 3rd District has also announced his retirement effective June 1st.
On March 23, 2017, the IBEW Officers of the TCC-2 met via conference call to discuss the Verizon proxy statement. The Officers are recommending all members take the time to vote as listed below;
Item 1- Against
Item 2- Against
Item 3- Against
Item 4 option 1- For
Item 5- Against
Item 6- For
Item 7- For
Item 8- For
Item 9- For
Item 10- For
Item 11- For
Keeping up with the constantly changing telecommunications industry can easily be a full-time job. Luckily, IBEW members have the National Coalition for Telecommunications Education and Learning to help, and to offer up-to-date training.
NACTEL is meeting the continuing education needs of working adults in the fast-paced telecommunications field. Part of a coalition including the IBEW and Communication Workers of America, NACTEL offers associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s programs, all completely online. NACTEL partners with Pace University to offer an array of classes. Members who are interested in an essentials certificate or an associate’s degree can choose from one of five tracks: telecommunications, video, mobile, networking and wireless. For those wishing to go further, there is a bachelor’s degree with a telecommunications concentration and a master’s in internet technology.
The curriculum is updated every year to keep up with industry breakthroughs, ensuring that students get the latest and most applicable training. In keeping with its online approach, NACTEL will host a virtual open house on May 3rd. Attendees will hear from Pace University staff and have time to ask questions. Those interested can register for free at www.nactel.org/ibew/voh. To accommodate as many schedules as possible, the webinar is offered at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. Space is limited.
April 30th Imagine Walk- Family Fun Day for Autism
Location: Goddard Memorial State Park
Time: 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Tie Dyed T-shirts are available for Team Austin Dickinson call Tom (401) 374-8259
May 21st 3rd Annual Solidarity Motorcycle Run
Location: 22 Amflex Dr. Cranston
Time: Registration begins at 9:00 a.m., the ride will start at 11:00 a.m.
100% of net proceeds will go directly to The Tomorrow Fund
For more information about both of these worthy events please see our website at www.ibew2323.org
Business Manager’s Report March 2017
Sisters & Brothers,
The Union is pleased to announce that we have won our Rhode Island Unemployment appeal which had Verizon filed to contest Local 2323 members being awarded Unemployment benefits. This is an enormous victory for our members, and organized labor in Rhode Island.
Our members returned to work on June 1st, but the staff of the Union office continued to fight on your behalf, and worked tirelessly for over 2 months with our attorney to prepare for the DLT Board of Review hearing and attended multiple days of hearings. These efforts were critical in our collective success. We expect Verizon to attempt to pursue this in the Rhode Island court system as a next step, and we are prepared for that fight also.
I would again like to thank the members for the incredible solidarity last spring. I would also like to extend a special thank you all those who contribute to our C.O.P.E fund without your continued contributions, our political advocacy in adding this decision would not have been possible. If you do not already contribute to C.O.P.E, please consider signing up to further strengthen our political advocacy on your behalf.
At a recent meeting with the WPA management team, we had the opportunity to express our displeasure with the roll out of the new schedules, the errors in the DU days, the violations of seniority, and the lack of foresight from management, who could’ve done all the hiring and training last year, in an effort to have more FCSA’s in the seats to absorb these call volumes and schedule changes. WPA management told us at this meeting the schedule changes will be for the foreseeable future, the weekend schedule will be revisited after the first two weeks with the union in an effort to ensure the numbers are correct. There will be a change to the Holiday schedules. Instead of forcing everyone, WPA will be looking for volunteers a month in advance, and will get back to us on allowing volunteers to work additional hours to alleviate members from being forced (based on call volumes). We are hopeful that the scheduling process for the 3rd quarter will be much more transparent.
We continue to wait to hear from Verizon’s Labor Relations regarding the Joint Pole Agreement between National Grid and Verizon. We are also waiting to hear who has been awarded the SST’s bids. As soon as we get more information we will place it on our website, Facebook page, and informational tape.
Business Manager’s Report February 2017
The ongoing battle for unemployment in Massachusetts continues with another few days of hearings. It appears that Verizon’s legal team is looking to drive up the legal cost of this case with multiple days of hearings. In Rhode Island, we are awaiting the decision by the Board of Review on the unemployment case that Verizon appealed. As soon as we get word we with get the word out.
Over the last week, we have settled an arbitration case filed on behalf of the T-6 on the implementation by Verizon of payment for the attendance bonus. Verizon didn’t pay many members who took FMLA and FCL time and will adjust the lump sum payments for 2014, 2015, and 2016. We have sent letters to every member impacted and what their payment will be.
We currently have meeting scheduled with Director Andrade on the morning of Jan. 31st. We also have a meeting scheduled with the VP Kimm and Director Cook for the Fiber Solutions Center in the afternoon of Jan 31st. Our goal is to hear their plan for 2017 and attempt to find areas of common ground. In addition to their plan, we will look to address many of our issues from scheduling to discipline, safety, quality, marketing, and hiring.
While we have put some attention on organizing we need the help of all our members, with the same enthusiasm as the work stoppage, to track down leads. I would like to do some sort of lead to succeed program for the union. We certainly won’t use their name but the philosophy is what we need. If a member provides an organizing lead that evolves in to an organizing campaign/election we may give them, with the Executive Boards approval, some sort of prize/gift. I understand you may get sick of hearing me say it but if we do nothing to capitalize on our gains we will surely watch the Labor Movement dwindle in union density. Please help me educate those members, not in attendance, on the importance of this! It will make our life and the lives of our children a much better place.
Business Managers Report January 2017
As we begin 2017 it is important to look back at 2016 and the challenges we overcame together.
We entered the year with the uncertainty of working without a contract, and little to any progress being
made at the bargaining table after 6 months of bargaining.
After 9 months of non-productive bargaining, the IBEW & CWA leadership set a Strike deadline of April
On April 13th, our local along with 38,000 of our brothers and sisters stood up and said NO to corporate greed and we hit the street to say enough is enough.
We began holding informational meetings in the union on the status of the work stoppage/bargaining.
After almost 3 weeks on the line, on May 5th, we received news that 2323 members were eligible to
receive RI unemployment benefits. This was an incredible win, for our membership and helped a great many members weather the work stoppage.
We held dozens of informational meetings throughout the month on topics ranging from unemployment, updates on bargaining, aid assistance, health. insurance options for our members, and
Heading into Memorial Day weekend we received news from the bargaining table that to the incredible solidarity of our members we were successful in our efforts fighting back Verizon and we would be returning to work on June 1.
We returned to work having staged a revitalizing effort for all of labor that a strike still can be a successful tool against corporate greed.
We ratified our contract mid-June and received the ratification bonus.
Held the family day which was well attended in August at the Portuguese American Club Smithfield.
Throughout the summer the company quickly returned to the same behaviors, making changes and causing strife among the membership with new practices and policies.
Held the 1st Annual Halloween Party and Haunted house in the union office.
Held the Annual Thanksgiving Feed a family event feeding over 175 families.
Held the Annual Christmas Party at Twin River
The local held the first annual toy drive for Hasbro Children’s Hospital. Members who dropped off the toys were told by Hasbro management this was the largest donation they received this year hats off to the generosity of the membership.
The reason we highlighted each month is to show that it is easy to get caught in the moment and focus on the just the negative, which of course Verizon is usually the cause.
However, over the course of the year, even one like 2016 filled with the adversity we all faced, there were so many good events and things taking place throughout the local to feel good
about, and be involved in.
My hope is fraternal activities offset some of the more negative issues we have experienced. There will always be highs and lows that we experience together, I ask for 2017 and beyond that we not lose perspective, and focus on just the low points.
I wish you and your family a happy and prosperous new year!!!