How will it work?
- You will continue to work.
- You will still earn a paycheck. The company cannot change your wages or working conditions.
- All benefits, including health care, will remain in effect. The grievance procedure continues, but arbitration probably will not.
- You have the legal right to participate in “concerted activity.” You can mobilize on the job, wear buttons and stickers, leaflet and do informational picketing.
- New, or “probationary,” employees also have a legal right to participate in “concerted activity.” The National Labor Relations Board, the federal agency which oversees Company-Union relationships, makes no distinction between employees — legally all employees receive protection under the National Labor Relations Act
CWA District 4 has decided to work without a contract.
Our CWA District 4 Bargaining Team, after working all night to narrow the gap between AT&T and its Union employees, has decided to work without a contract. It is critical that we support each other and present a united front towards management until we have a tentative agreement in our hands. The best way to do this is to stay in contact with your steward, your picket-captain and each other. Last time in 2012 bargaining while working without a contract, there were several grievance-strikes conducted all over the Midwest; these may occur at any time or place, depending on circumstances. A good rule of thumb: There is safety in numbers! If you see a fellow Union member getting jammed up by management, stand with him or her! Let your steward or other union leadership know there is trouble. Do not be afraid; there are more of us than there are of them!
Working without a contract gives a union three cards to play:*
Strike without notice. Without a no-strike clause to hold it back, the union can credibly threaten to walk out without notice at the worst possible moment for the employer (except in the health care industry, where a 10-day strike notice is required).
Informational picketing can be conducted to put the employer—and its customers—in a constant state of alarm about an imminent strike. The only way the employer can escape the uncertainty is to sign a contract.
Short warning strikes. The union can call a one- or two-day “warning” or “grievance” strike. While the union must avoid a series of strikes (“intermittent strike strategies” are not protected under the National Labor Relations Act), it can usually conduct at least two short-term walkouts without risking sanctions.
*See more at: Labor Notes
What can we do as union members while working without a contract?
Because we are working without a contract, which means that there may be no arbitration, we recommend the following:
- Follow ALL practices, policies, and procedures. This ensures that you cannot be written up for “taking shortcuts.”
- Work safely. If you are asked to perform any task that a reasonable person would consider to be unsafe, you have the legal right to refuse the task and ask your manager for work that is safe. Please inform your steward if this occurs.
- If you are asked about any aspect of your job by your manager, it is only prudent that you ask the manager to provide a union steward. This will ensure that your conversation is documented in case the manager tries to discipline you.
- Attend meetings, rallies, informational pickets, etc. This is where “word” will be passed and where we draw our true strength: From our unity.
This is a critical time for not only our members, but the families of our members, our retirees and our customers. While we brave all manner of weather to provide world-class service, we expect to be fairly compensated by AT&T. Just as AT&T demands to be fairly compensated by its customers. This is the American way: Fair wages for fair work.
Ryan R. Letts, President
CWA Local 4034