The Midwest CWA Health & Safety team made things a little safer for our AT&T members who drive small trucks. The trucks, primarily driven by our members who install Uverse and DirecTV such as Premises Technicians, are quite small and fuel efficient. Though AT&T had carefully designed a vehicle load (known as a DVL) intended to ensure that the truck carried everything needed but was not overloaded, their tests had been conducted utilizing only one human in the truck – the driver. During real-world deployment of the trucks in the field, however, CWA noticed that in many cases these trucks would roll with two humans — usually the passenger was a trainee or trainer, but sometimes would be a manager conducting field training or evaluations. As a result, the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) would likely be exceeded because of the passenger’s weight. These vehicle weight limits are extremely important as they ensure that the vehicle is able to stop safely in the shortest distance possible. In the Midwest, as in other parts of the country, this is particularly important in the winter because an overweight vehicle on slick, icy road surfaces definitely presents a hazard.
Thanks to some advocacy by the CWA Midwest Safety Coordinators, led by Ron Gay, and the work of local stewards in CWA Local 4034, especially Rick Balsitis and Bob Mourer, we were able to present to AT&T hard data about the hazards of carrying passengers in the affected vehicles. As a result and very much to their credit, AT&T issued an immediate injunction against carrying passengers in these vehicles until adjustments can be made to the DVL, or their policy, to account for this issue. The truck models are: Ford Transit Connect, Ford F-150, and the Chevy C-1500.