AT&T Plan For Landlines
Brothers and Sisters,
I am reaching out to you about the recent Senate Bill (SB636) that was just passed by the Michigan Senate late today.
As was discussed at the Executive Board Meeting we had on Tuesday, all concerned parties were in a state of playing cat and mouse with the Michigan Senate on this bill. This item was not placed on the Senate Committee Agenda until the end of business Monday, just one day prior to the meeting of the Energy and Technology Committee that is chaired by Sen. Mike Nofs (R-Battle Creek).
Tuesday, that next day, SB636 was voted to be moved out of committee to the Senate Floor for overall approval, by an 8 to 1 vote. Sen. Howard Walker (R-Traverse City) was the lone dissenting vote. Pam Beach and Ralph Prince were at the committee meeting and reported that Sen. Nofs opposed the amendments that were proposed by other Senators that serve on the Committee and was able to curtail any open discussion about the ramifications of the Bill.
All concerned parties, that have vested interest and were following SB636, were told that this was not on the Senate Floor Agenda for this week and would likely be brought to the floor during next week’s session. However, late today SB636 was introduced on the Senate Floor and voted on, with just one amendment. The vote was 31 to 4.
CWA has many concerns about this Senate Bill. We feel, along with others, that SB636 would erode consumer protection for Michigan residents especially those that live and/or work in rural service areas. Obviously, in a more personal manner this has great potential to affect our job security in a very negative way.
Below is a good short article (Gongwer News Service) that outlines the basics of what AT&T was able to accomplish in this version of an MTA rewrite that passed today through the Senate. This will be what would go into effect starting in Jan. 1, 2017 unless we are able to successfully oppose this bill throughout the reset of the legislative process, with the first battle beginning in the House of Representatives.
More will come regarding what we are doing to garner more awareness and support from other organizations across the state as well as what we will be doing to engage our membership for this fight.
Ryan Letts, President CWA Local 4034
Thursday, December 5, 2013, 04:30 PM
Senate Approves Landline Termination Bill
The Senate has passed a bill that would streamline the process for phone companies to end traditional landline service to customers under certain conditions on a 31-4 vote.
A new S-2 substitute for SB 636 toughens language that allows customers of providers seeking to discontinue landline service or an interconnecting telecommunications provider to petition the Public Service Commission to investigate the availability of reliable voice service with access to 911.
The new language replaces the word “may” with “shall” in several spots, such as requiring instead of allowing the PSC to declare an emergency if it finds a lack of any provider to offer reliable voice service and 911 functions. The new language also requires the PSC to seek interested providers to fill the gap instead of merely allowing the PSC to do so.
If such a provider cannot be found, then under the bill, the PSC must compel – again a change from the committee-approved version simply allowing the PSC to order – the provider that wants to end landline service in an area to continue voice service, either through an alternative technology, or if that is not sufficiently reliable, by maintaining its landline system.
Overall, the goal of the bill is to remove front-end approval from the PSC now required in current law for a phone company to discontinue landline service and instead leave that decision fully in the hands of the Federal Communications Commission. Current law requires FCC and PSC approval.
Under the bill, once the FCC approves the end of landline service in a region, then the safety valve system of a customer or interconnecting telecommunications provider having the ability to seek help from the PSC would become available.