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SBC CWA Strike Imminent 572

Tmack writes "SBC union workers are preparing (again) to strike after negotiations have broken down between CWA and SBC. What this means to the average person? As long as the strike is taking place, orders for new service and repair of existing services with SBC will be delayed as only non-union workers and temps will be around to complete the work. Latest word is the strike is now planned for Friday night through next Tuesday. Check here(1), here(2), and here(3) for more info."
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SBC CWA Strike Imminent

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  • Gotta love those long weekends :)
  • Who? What? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @04:54PM (#9198596)
    I can't be the only person here who has no idea what this is about...
    • by lazn ( 202878 ) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @04:56PM (#9198628)
      Nope, I too am not sure of what the SBC or CWA are.

      Strange Business Creators
      Content Watching Authority
      Super Boy's Car
      Cranky Women's Adovocates

      hmm I am sure others can come up with better or possibly even right answers to this mystery.
      • Re:Who? What? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Kiryat Malachi ( 177258 ) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @04:57PM (#9198645) Journal
        SBC = (Something - Southern, maybe?) Bell Company, one of the Big Bells, provides service throughout the Midwest.

        CWA = Communications Workers of America, big union including all your telco repair folks.
        • Re:Who? What? (Score:2, Informative)

          by Joney ( 703717 )

          Southern would be BellSouth
          • Bleh. SBC is my carrier, too, which makes it all the more sad that I don't know the acronym, but I still think of them as Ameritech (and somewhere, in the back of my mind, I miss Michigan Bell).
        • Re:Who? What? (Score:4, Informative)

          by JabberWokky ( 19442 ) <> on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @05:05PM (#9198774) Homepage Journal
          From what I've gathered, SBC is the major local telco for everywhere in the United States except the east coast. There are competitors, but SBC pretty much owns the majority of US local loops from the midwest through to the west coast. They are the equivelent of the Northeast's Verizon (I think; never lived or done business in the NE) and the South's BellSouth (who cuddled with AT&T awhile back).

          I'll freely admit I gave up on tracking the buyouts and mergers, but that seems to be the layout of the local carriers in the US. SBC is a biggie, at least by geography.


      • Re:Who? What? (Score:2, Informative)

        by astrokid ( 779104 )
        CWA: Communications Workser of America
        SBC: Southwestern Bell Company(?)
        Taken from:
        In 1999, SBC Communications Inc., introduced the SBC brand to its customers with the SBC Global Network tag line. And last year, the company took the big step of adding SBC, in a dominant way, to its regional brand names.
        The time is now right for the company to move to a single national brand -- SBC. The brand change gives SBC a more unified presence throughout its markets, maki
      • by Mateito ( 746185 )
        CWA is the "Country Women's Association".

        Which means basically no crochet tea-cosies, fresh scones or home made waffles for a couple of days.

    • Re:Who? What? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Taius ( 464931 )
      The union employees at SBC want the company to guarantee them job security (against all the outsourcing) and to guarantee their healthcare premiums won't rise.

      I'm a SBC manager, and I've already been notifed to transport to my strike location, so I guess I'll be fixed your DSL as of Friday. :)
    • Re:Who? What? (Score:3, Informative)

      by therblig ( 543426 )
      They have a few big issues. I have talked to both a union person and my SBC account rep about it as well.

      Some of the union gripes are that SBC is outsourcing jobs instead of giving the jobs in new areas to union employees, so the union wants some job guarantees. Another union gripe is that they currently pay 4-7% in copays (no premiums) for health insurance, and SBC wants to raise it to 7-11%.

      SBC is also using this as a stick to beat the feds with, because they claim that they have to support the CLEC's

  • Call me! (Score:4, Funny)

    by thebra ( 707939 ) * on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @04:54PM (#9198603) Homepage Journal
    "We're sorry, the number you have reached has been disconnected or is no longer in service. You can try calling for help but everyone is on strike, thanks."
  • Hmmm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by corporate_ai ( 775461 ) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @04:54PM (#9198605)
    Does this mean I can stop paying my bill 'cause no one will be there to shut my service off?

  • by gumpish ( 682245 ) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @04:55PM (#9198613) Journal
    Things would be much worse off if it weren't for organized labor.

    IANA Economics Major
    • <!-- Insert comment that unions are corrupt. -->

    • by MAXOMENOS ( 9802 ) <maxomai AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @05:16PM (#9198917) Homepage
      A year and some change ago, I got laid off from my job at a union shop as a systems analyst. Budget cuts. Two weeks later I landed a lower-paying (in fact, half the salary) job in first-tier tech support, with the potential to move into UNIX programming after a year or more. The new shop, as it turns out, was also a union shop.

      The day that I accepted the new job, I got a phone call from my old shop. The union went to management and strong-armed them into restoring a lot of jobs in income-producing areas, including mine. I could have my old position back provided that I came to work the next day. I immediately accepted my old position, and called the new shop to let them know what happened and that I would be returning to my old job.

      Good thing I did, too. Within six months of my returning to my old job, the new shop circulated a petition amoung the workers to get rid of the union. As soon as the union was gone, they moved all the first-tier tech support positions to India.

      Lesson learned. Unions mean job security. No unions mean you take your chances.

      • by BigGerman ( 541312 ) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @05:28PM (#9199038)
        >>Unions mean job security. No unions mean you take your chances.

        Unions also mean you are paid the same as the idiot in the next cube but less than idiot who is two years senior.
        I will take my chances, thank you.

        • by buss_error ( 142273 ) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @05:51PM (#9199304) Homepage Journal
          Unions also mean you are paid the same as the idiot in the next cube but less than idiot who is two years senior.
          I will take my chances, thank you.

          The second management thinks your job can go to India, it doesn't matter how smart you are. Your ass is in the unemployment line.

          You may get paid the same as the idiot in the next cube (who thinks you are the idiot most of the time) but at least you get to keep your job. I simply do not understand the brainwashing that goes on about unions. Sure, there are bad ones, but quite a few are allright, and some are even very good. Not to say that a union can't be stupid, but let's face it: SBC's profits are sky high, and still they want to screw over the workers. The question is, would you rather have a job where you are paid the same as the idiot in the next cube, pulling down a living wage, or do you want to learn how to say "You want fries with that"?

          Your choice. Choose wisely.

        • by glk572 ( 599902 ) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @06:02PM (#9199446) Homepage Journal
          not having unions also means that your employer can forbid you from talking to your coworkers about how much money you make. Then your boss tells everyone that they're the highest employee in their department, resulting in no one ever getting a raise. It also means that you are essentially at the mercy of your employer regarding overtime, and basically makes it impassable to negotiate contract terms (after all they can just find someone else.) Unions put the workers on the same footing as their employers.

          You may be better at your job than the idiot in the next cube, but seniority policies actually protect workers. They help prevent the company from hiring someone into a higher level position based on their (supposed) experience. There's nothing worse than having your new supervisor hired from outside, finding out that his qualifications are b.s. and then being stuck with him until his contract runs out.

          Hiring all employees at the same wage, and then giving them regular promotions and raises, prevents elitism in the rank and file.

          Unions by being able to negotiate with authority protect workers, provide protection, and create a sense of brother-ship instead of competition.

          --this has been my pro union party line. I've worked in union and non union environments and I must say that I much prefer union.
      • by joggle ( 594025 ) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @05:48PM (#9199274) Homepage Journal
        From a simple economic standpoint, unions are labor monopolies and have an identical effect as corporate monopolies. By strong-arming the labor pool, you can artificially jack up prices (in this case, income). That's great for members of the monopoly (the union members), but not so great for the corporation(s) relying on the union nor consumers.

        My first job was baging groceries part time in high school. When I moved to Colorado I tried to get a similar job at a local Safeway. Even though the checkout lines were easily 3-4 times longer than the ones at my old store, they wouldn't hire me. I found out that it was mostly because of the union there (which explained why the checkers/bagers were so old). Why on earth should people have a stable, relatively high-paying job baging groceries? It just causes consumer frustration, raises costs for the company and reduces income by providing worse service than non-union competitors. IMO, monopolies should be avoided if at all possible, and in those exceptions be government regulated to keep prices under control.

      • by hellfire ( 86129 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [vdalived]> on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @06:01PM (#9199431) Homepage
        The nice thing about unions is that they mean job security, and protection from overzealous greedy companies. They give the workers a voice and strength against getting screwed by a few rich bastards.

        The bad thing about unions is they mean you don't have to work hard to keep a job, even at a generous, well managed company. They give workers a lever to use against management to get what they want even if it means screwing a management who's actually doing a decent job.

        Sounds like the same union huh?

        Unions themselves aren't inherently evil, but they are easily abused these days. I'd rather have lazy stupid people wandering around happy they have a job than lazy stupid people screaming with picket signs and complaining to me that they have no job and they have the right to break into my house and steal my things because society sucks. I believe in that social safety net and all.

        However, tighting up a few rules and introducing some healthy competition into unions would be a stellar idea. How about requiring that companies have more than one union for the same workers?! The union that performs better gets better bonuses from the company. How about restricting some of the practices with unions, like making strikes illegal for more important service companies like SBC, where service is crucial.

        But of course, evil unions have lobbies, and would never allow that to happen.
  • Outsourcing demands (Score:4, Interesting)

    by darth_MALL ( 657218 ) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @04:56PM (#9198624)
    looks like one of the major bargaining issues is outsourcing. This is from an interview w/ one of the union members "We recently made 10 test calls to DSL technical support. One went to Florida, one went to Texas and eight went to India," Rosen said. "We would rather see these jobs go to people in Indianapolis than people in India.". Kinda sucks for them.
  • A little clue anyone? Please?
    • Re:What's SBC? (Score:3, Informative)

      by LostCluster ( 625375 ) *
      Southwestern Bell Company. They're the West Coast equal to what Verizon has on the East Coast, and they call their cellular company Cingular.
      • Re:What's SBC? (Score:2, Informative)

        by ranger714 ( 580794 )
        Actually, SBC is one of the four major RBOC (Regional Bell Operating Companies, the biggest of the Baby Bells)...

        They started as SBC (Southwestern Bell Company) in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri, then started buying other Baby Bells. They bought SNET (Connecticut), Ameritech (Illinois, Wisconson, Michigan, Indiana and Ohio) and recently PacBell/Nevada Bell (California and Nevada).

        Verizon covers most of the rest of the New England states and also Kentuky, West Virginia and Virginia.


    • From one of the linked articles:

      The union representing 102,000 employees of SBC Communications said it would stage a four-day strike beginning Friday, following a deadlock in contract talks with the nation's No. 2 local phone company.
      SBC's 13-state coverage area includes Texas, California, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Connecticut.

      I guess they are a communications company. Since one of the states listed isn't 'intoxicated' I guess it doesn't affect you or I. ;)

  • A little locale (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @04:56PM (#9198627)
    Isn't this a little localized of a topic to be posted on Slashdot? I mean we have strikes here in New York all the time and I don't see it making the front page. I mean even if it affects 13 states that is not that much in the grand scale of things. Con-Ed goes on strike and it might only affect one state but that includes around 8-10 million people.

    Someone could at least explain if this will have an effect on us.
    • by StuWho ( 748218 ) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @05:03PM (#9198736) Journal
      "SBC union workers are preparing (again) to strike after negotiations have broken down between CWA and SBC"

      SBC is the Somalian Bodybuilders Co-op, they are in dispute with the Cameroon Weightlifting Association (CWA). Something about stolen training methods.

      It's only really relevant because Microsoft fund SBC.

    • "Isn't this a little localized of a topic to be posted on Slashdot? "

      Perhaps. But for those of us outside the area, it is an interesting point of discussion. Already saw a couple of interesting posts about unions etc.
    • Re:A little locale (Score:4, Informative)

      by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @05:12PM (#9198862)
      How would NYC and the whole East Coast feel if Verizon's people went on strike? That's who SBC is over there...

      See, now you see why this is newsworthy. Even if you're not over there, if you depend on reaching something or someone over there, you're a bit nervous because if for any reason a phone line were to go down, a strike would make it take longer to bring back up.
      • Re:A little local (Score:3, Insightful)

        by antic ( 29198 )
        Which is all great, except who are SBA, CWA or Verizon? If they go on strike, what changes?

        I seriously have no idea. Whenever I see Verizon, I think it's Verisign.

        All the Slashdot blurb tells me is that SBC provide a service and repair existing services. That service could be mobile dog-washing for all the explaining done.

        The first article tells me that CWA is Communications Workers of America. The second suggests that a telephone company is involved, and the third is fluff.

        So people might experience de
    • Re:A little locale (Score:4, Interesting)

      by lpangelrob2 ( 721920 ) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @05:12PM (#9198873) Journal
      Hmm. I dunno either, but let me take a guess.

      I live in Chicago, and as far as I know, this will affect millions of people from here to Texas. It should at least get an honorable mention for that. Most strikes I hear in the news seem to be about things /.ers don't really care for (not as much as technology) -- you know, mass transit, newspapers, mass transportation... umm... air traffic control (thanks, Reagan. :-( ). Since these are telecom workers, they would be one of the closest parallels to you average everyday software developer unionizing.

      There are plenty differences, which I'm sure are to be pointed out in various child posts, but hey, it made front page for some reason.

    • Re:A little locale (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gr8_phk ( 621180 )
      Slashdot is a Michigan web site (or started that way) so why are all you other people reading it? Sure, it's grown up now but apparently they forget that sometimes. SBC is the big phone company around here, but I couldn't tell you what that W--whatever thing is they mentioned.

      I have a friend who works there, and she has had to learn how to solder among other things that may need to be done in the field. I wouldn't change anything relating to my service during the strike. Imagine an army of PHBs pulling wir

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @04:56PM (#9198635)
    Amazing how their practices are fully legalized. If I were to tell a company:

    "Joe won't be coming in to work and you can't fire him nor can you hire a temporary replacement for him. If you want Joe to work again, you must cough up some money."

    I'd be arrested and charged with extortion. It has always baffled me that this kind of behavior is actually legally sanctioned.
    • by Kiryat Malachi ( 177258 ) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @05:06PM (#9198789) Journal
      Actually, the union isn't saying that.

      They're saying:

      "We want a raise. If you don't give us a raise, NO ONE will come to work."

      Its totally legit, and you can do it at your job legally as well. However, at your job, unless you can:

      a) Convince no one else to show up if you don't get what you want/get fired.
      b) Convince any potential replacements that they'll get a better paycheck if they join your strike.

      Then management will laugh at you.

      Unions are a method of using the collective legal power of the workers (the threat of withholding labor) to counterbalance the economic power of the corporation (the threat of withholding a job/paycheck from a single worker).
  • So what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JustKidding ( 591117 ) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @05:00PM (#9198692)
    1) you might try explaining what SBC and CWA are for those who don't know, and

    2) exacly why is this news? just because it's in the US? (not sure, just assuming).

    People do live outside the US, you know.

    • Re:So what? (Score:5, Informative)

      by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @05:09PM (#9198828)
      SBC stands for Southwestern Bell Company, which is the Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier (ILEC) for much of the Western USA, including California and Texas which have major datacenters. CWA stands for Communications Workers of America, which is the labor union that represents most of their technical workers.

      It's news because it affects a good chunk of the IT industry. Basically, if the CWA goes on strike, SBC's ability to resolve field-wiring issues will suddenly be reduced to management employees who aren't represented by the union. This means any line noise or wire failure issue that happens on local phone line loops within their territory will take much longer than usual to be resolved... leading to potential longer-than-usual disruptions to communication services that rely on local copper loops.
  • Uhh... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Ranger Rick ( 197 ) <slashdot&raccoonfink,com> on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @05:01PM (#9198710) Homepage
    Your TLAs are DOA, why R U not bothering 2 explain WTF U R talking about?

    IOW, who/what are SBC and CWA?
  • by grag ( 597728 ) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @05:02PM (#9198724)

    I heard my dad make some mention of this a few days ago. Of course, this doesn't surprise me. My father spoke of SBC cutting retirement benefits in the future just to get people to retire early before the lower benefits took place.

    He also spoke of his animosity towards SBC because of their push for Technicians to get more jobs completed in less time. Thus, you get people doing a job and meeting the most basic requirements to complete the job, so they end up closing out the job quickly.

    My dad has a wall of Customer Service awards, but his managers would always complain about his inability to close jobs out quickly. My dad always told them he'd much rather take his time and make sure the customer is happy than do a barely-done job with a disgruntled customer.

    Oh well, it doesn't matter now. The older generation of Technicians who actually care about the customer are retiring while newer non-union/contractors fill the slots

    Even my dad doesn't have SBC for his phones anymore, even with the retiree discount

    • by kaladorn ( 514293 ) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @06:02PM (#9199452) Homepage Journal
      Don't take this the wrong way, but your Dad might have been a bit confused about his job. He obviously thought it was to satisfy customers. In truth, it was to satisfy the people paying his paycheck. The customer has an indirect relationship to that, at best. If the company's management wants a tech to do a quick-n-dirty job, it is THEM that have to worry about the repercussions and it is THEIR place to make that call. It is not the technician's place to decide what service level a customer is to be offered - that's a policy issue. The only decision they have to make is are they willing to deliver that service or do they have some objection great enough to cause them to part ways with the company.... I'm not advocating crappy service, but I am advocating management not being second guessed. If management advocates a particular approach to a problem (budget or time-on-task ahead of total and complete quality of end result), then that is their choice and that's the kind of decision they are there to make. In theory, they are accountable for those decisions and have to live with the consequences.

      • Don't take this the wrong way, but your Dad might have been a bit confused about his job. He obviously thought it was to satisfy customers. In truth, it was to satisfy the people paying his paycheck.

        Dude, you're brainwashed. People aren't machines.

        I'm not advocating crappy service, but I am advocating management not being second guessed.

        Is "management" some sort of God or something? You have been totally brainwashed. Individuals are capable of making decisions too.
      • As long as they kept paying him, then they were in fact accepting the modification he made of said arrangemnet to only provide service with no quality.

        There is the policy a company states they wish to follow, and there is the policy a companies staff actually implements - these are usually different. A persons job is what they can do and convince the company to pay them for. It's up to the company to hire people that will try to do things beneficial for the company instead of draining from the company.
      • It is not the technician's place to decide what service level a customer is to be offered - that's a policy issue. The only decision they have to make is are they willing to deliver that service or do they have some objection great enough to cause them to part ways with the company....

        Thanks for this. Just yesterday I had final words with a subcontractor. I watched him dick around in a cherry picker for almost an hour looking for the "right" place to mount an aerial. Then he came down and said he wanted
      • While treating customers like crap because the company says to might be ethical enough it is immoral to many of us and stupid besides. If you do a shitty job you'll end up having to go back and if the customer was paying for your first visit, they won't be paying for your second. If they weren't paying for your first visit, they still won't be paying for your second, and there's even more money lost.

        Every employee uses discretion, whether they are a telephone installer, policeman, janitor, commercial pilo

  • woohoo! (Score:2, Funny)

    by mcmonkey ( 96054 )
    "Latest word is the strike is now planned for Friday night through next Tuesday."

    Workers' rights, my ass. They just want the long weekend. Come on down to Billy's Bear Barn where we're on strike every night! Tuesdays women strike for half price! Yee-haw!
  • by almightynayr ( 529054 ) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @05:05PM (#9198766) Homepage
    I think they perfer the term SCABS.. sorry cant help but pick on em..
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @05:06PM (#9198780)
    ... only non-union people will be working, so getting things done will take *longer* ?

  • From the piece of the pie or we stick you dept. Thanks Timothy, we know where your sentiments lie, clearly in the camp of the ruling class, not the workers. I can't wait for all the 'unions ar teh suck!' posts.

    Unions brought us child labor laws, eight hour days, overtime pay, the weekend, paid vacations, etc. You think the bosses just gave us all that? Hardly. People fought and died for those benefits and protections, and even if you aren't in a union, rest assured that unions and the threat of unions has
  • by Nobody You Know ( 750014 ) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @05:08PM (#9198806)
    As long as the strike is taking place, orders for new service and repair of existing services with SBC will be delayed

    Can't speak for SBC, but if this was Verizon in New York, my response would be "How could you tell?"

    • Oh, you could tell very easily - the guy you speak to at Verizon would be a LOT less abusive than the normal trolls you typically get.
    • > > As long as the strike is taking place, orders for new service and repair of existing services with SBC will be delayed
      > Can't speak for SBC, but if this was Verizon in New York, my response would be "How could you tell?"

      Oh, easy. When you give up and decide to do your own wiring isntead, look around for big fat slobs. If there are no big fat slobs threatening to break your fingers, you know they're not yet on strike.

  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @05:12PM (#9198868) Homepage
    It seems according to the message on-air, SBC (SouthwesternBell Communications) has been commanding ever-growing profits at a non-stop rate for the past 10+ years if I recall correctly and yet SBC has been cutting employee benefits and threatening to lower salaries while top executives find more ways to increase their salaries and bonuses.

    They [SBC] don't have the excuse of failing profit margins or losses. They are just greedy. If the shareholders out there would vote their minds, they'd probably change out those in control... but then again, they're probably one in the same.
  • by DynaSoar ( 714234 ) * on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @05:18PM (#9198928) Journal
    ...announcing a strike at the same time Cingular and AT&T are announcing approval of a merger. The "cost" of the merger is tied to the value of the stock. The value of the stock drops, and Cingular loses. The union is blackmailing the company into settling fast and sweet by timing their announcement to knock the stock prices down at a critical time.

    If SBC has the gonadal substructure, they'll reply with "Well, with all these AT&T people coming on board, we'll be way over staffed, and we'll have to start cutting some jobs..."

    Hey, I'm against both sides. I just enjoy a good corporate bloodbath. Movies are getting too expensive, news is free.
    • The union is blackmailing the company...

      Funny, when a business maximizes it's return by exploiting the situation it's called smart. When a union does the same thing it's called blackmail. Why is that? Are union members supposed to be saints? Can't they be as ruthless as the management?
    • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @05:43PM (#9199217)
      Cingular is not merging with AT&T. They're merging with AT&T Wireless which was spun off from the mothership AT&T years ago in the same move that created Lucent (now Avaya) and AT&T Broadband (now part of Comcast). SBC will pick up a right to use the AT&T Wireless brand for no more than six months, so absolutely any sign anywhere that reads AT&T Wireless will be getting rebranded Cingular rather quickly. The AT&T long distance company has nothing to do with this.

      Therefore, SBC will not be aquiring much help in getting local loops fixed... the only local loop AT&T Wireless is concerned with is cell towers. Cingular and AT&T Wireless operate on the same technologies, so they'll have no compatiblity issues taking on the existing AT&T Wireless customers onto the Cingular networks. They basically want AT&T Wireless so that Cingular can mark off any where AT&T has set up a GSM tower up as already done on their GSM conversion effort.

      Still, the union's timing in light of a merger close is exactly what they're swinging for. Cheapen the company as the merge closes, and SBC is out money if they cave, and out money if they don't cave. Sad when a business deal heads into mutually destructive territory...
  • by David Hume ( 200499 ) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @05:18PM (#9198929) Homepage

    The Communications Workers of America (CWA) [] has issued a press release, Communications Workers Set Strike at SBC Involving 100,000 Workers at Midnight Tomorrow []:

    WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Communications Workers of America announced that a 4-day strike involving 100,000 union employees of SBC in 13 states will begin at 12:01 a.m. local time in each time zone on Friday, May 21. Workers will return to their jobs at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, May 25.

    Among key issues in the contract dispute, CWA members are seeking to strengthen their employment security, including gaining access to new jobs in growth areas of the company, and to preserve their health care benefits in the face of substantial cost-shifting demands by SBC management.

    National bargaining that has been taking place between the parties in Washington, D.C. over health care, wages, pensions and employment security will cease, and these issues will now be referred back to the four regional tables in New Haven, Conn., Chicago, Austin, Tex., and Pleasanton, Calif.

    "We appreciate the hard work of Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Director Peter Hurtgen in helping us try to work out an agreement on these issues, but unfortunately these efforts have failed to achieve a settlement," said CWA President Morton Bahr.

    "We are making this a limited job action right now to drive it home to SBC that our members are serious about securing their future at SBC," said Bahr. "We know that a prolonged strike could cause a loss of major customers and do significant damage to the company, and hopefully that can be avoided."

    CWA also is ratcheting up other mobilization activities in the field and is being supported by the AFL-CIO and other major unions in mounting a carrier-switch campaign that potentially could shift substantial business from SBC to another union carrier, AT&T, which operates in 11 of the SBC states. AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Rich Trumka personally is spearheading carrier-switch efforts aimed at labor organizations and the 5 million union families who are SBC customers. Customers are being asked to give CWA their "proxy" to implement a carrier switch if the union deems it necessary.

    CWA members, who have lost 29,000 jobs at SBC over the past three years, are seeking access to the new growth jobs in Internet data services, installation of Wi-Fi hotspots, voice over the Internet (VOIP), DSL broadband and other areas. Virtually all of this SBC work, amounting to thousands of jobs, is being outsourced, including going offshore to countries such as India and the Philippines.

    "SBC continues to refuse to give this work to our members, the frontline workers who have built SBC into the nation's most profitable telecom company," said Bahr. SBC's profits last year were more than $8 billion.

    CWA also noted that SBC's latest bargaining proposal called for members to receive no base wage increase upon settlement, but instead receive a one-time lump sum payment of 4 percent. A cash payment instead of a 3 percent base wage increase equates to a savings to SBC of more than $1 billion over four years.

    "Incredibly, SBC wants to take $1 billion out of our members' pockets in wages, not to pay for rising health costs, but just to fatten its profits. At the same time, SBC is still demanding that workers also start paying tens of millions more out of pocket for their health care," Bahr stated.

    Negotiations began in mid-February. These contracts cover SBC workers in Connecticut, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Arkansas, Missouri, Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, California and Nevada.

    The CWA also offers a See-n-Say with CWA Game [].

  • by FinderS ( 768757 ) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @05:19PM (#9198943)
    I mean, honestly. Having no technicians to fix things will mean what exactly?

    An anecdote from my personal experience with them...

    SBC was supposed to install DSL at my home. The equipment for my end came and I hooked it up, waiting for the date service was supposed to start. The day comes and goes with no DSL. I call them the next day and spend several hours on the phone with a tech. Finally, he comes to the conclusion that I don't seem to have DSL service.

    In fact, he can't even find record of the order, despite them having sent me equipment. We get off the phone, and I am called not once, but three times by different companies they apparently contract with to let me know that my DSL service is down.

    Finally, they get their act together and fix the problem. Over the next three days I received four phone calls and two in-person visits letting me know that they fixed my DSL service.

    Never mind how SBC used to call me at my old address trying to sell me DSL (which wasn't offered in my area at the time). We actually ordered it the first time, and it took them two months of hassles to get the to admit they don't offer it in our area and get a refund for the two months of service they charged us for.

    So I ask, how would I be able to tell that there was a strike? Oh, my phone wouldn't ring off the hook with notifications of information I already know.

  • by Soothh ( 473349 ) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @05:28PM (#9199033)
    What a crock, i have working in a union environment before, and never will again, I have too good of a work ethic and end up carrying my fellow "workers" because they want to sleep or have a beer or 20.

    Unions should be banned.

  • by Shuasha ( 564968 ) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @05:44PM (#9199226)
    Yeah, like I said above... I personally feel that the Union has outlived it's usefulness.. SBC pretty much gave them most of the major things they wanted. The two main sticking points are: 1: Medical Copays.. currently the Union guys don't have to pay any medical premiums, and a small copay for each visit. SBC will still pay their premiums, but raise the copays a bit.. but that's still way the hell better than the "Management" employees get. 2: Job Security.. SBC is offering any Union member a job in the same state that they currently work in if their job is "surplused". I think that 100% of people wish they had any job security, let alone that kind. If anybody cares to read SBC's side of things, read . It will tell SBC's side of things. Now I'm off to frickin' Detroit to run phone lines for 12 hours a day, 7 days a week.. thanks Union.
    • I personally feel that the Union has outlived it's usefulness

      Amen, brother. What a strike means is that union employees (is SBC a closed-shop?) will get better benefits or better pay or subsidized jobs for life, paid for by the company who's got bullied into acquiesence. In order to maintain a profitable bottom line (let's be honest - companies that don't make money for their investors don't survive long, and making money by providing goods and/or services is what running a company is all about), the co

    • I largely agree with your statements -- except the last one...

      Now I'm off to frickin' Detroit to run phone lines for 12 hours a day, 7 days a week.. thanks Union.

      Don't "thank" the union. The union did not mandate 12x7 shifts. SBC did that. SBC could have hired a larger number of contractors or offered volunteer overtime or any number of other solutions to keep operations moving in the event of a strike. They chose instead to mandate 12x7 shifts for every non-bargained employee and to recall those e

  • by citking ( 551907 ) * <> on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @05:55PM (#9199362) Homepage
    I work for a CLEC (Competetive Local Exchange Carrier) that leases lines from SBC per the 1998 Telecommunications Act. This act provided the ability for smaller phone companies to gain a foothold in an industry largely controlled by SBC and Verizon, to name a few. This is the Act in a nutshell. Google for more info if you are curious about the details.

    Anyhow, we have our own fiber network, our own switchng equipment, and we are responsible for our own order processing, repairs, service changes, etc. Basically we rely on SBC for what is termed the "last mile", or the cable that leaves from either a COLO (colococation office) or CO (central office) and leads right up to the building being serviced. This also includes the pedestals and other line structures used to pass service along.

    We rely on SBC to make repairs to aerial or buried drops and for basic installation. How it works is we send SBC an order saying "Hey, this person wants our service. Hook them up." SBC then gives us the line from their switch and ensures that the line leading from the pedestal or segmentation equipment is dropped off at the NID (Network Interface Device). We then complete the order by doing the necessary routing, NPAC (Number Portability), hooking up the inside wiring, and ensuring service is delivered properly. As you can imagine, while we don't overly rely on SBC's equipment we are very dependent on their service. This strike will make an already long installation process even longer and perhaps delay repairs to infrastructure. While this strike seems to only affect SBC and their customers on the surface, this could have potentially damaging effects on our service as well by delaying key steps in the installation and repair sectors.

    SBC has always been a little underhanded when it has come to playing fair, ie giving our customers lines that they knew were of less than stellar quality, delaying the install process when they can get away with it, charging us for doing a "no trouble found" dispatch where the problem "mysteriously" diappears so as to cause an unnecessary dispatch chargeback to appear, etc. We try and get along, but it is not always that easy. We've had issues with their technicians disparaging our service as well, trying to get a "winback" so as to regain their previous customers' service. In fact, we keep a database of all the things that SBC has done to try and undermine our service so we can have an accurate record to present to the PSC (Public Service Commission). You'd be amazed at what SBC tries to do to steal back their customers. Thankfully we do provide cheaper service and better customer care IMHO.

    While I understand why the CWA is striking I hope the issue is solved soon. Otherwise it is going to cause our little company a lot of headaches in the long run. While we may not always get along, we are really dependent on SBC to get service and maintanance schedules completed properly and on time.

    • Very well put, I should have added that CLEC's are not immune from this at all to the original submission. As an employee of another CLEC that depends on SBC for local loops, I can second all your claims of "underhanded" practices. The "no trouble found" and other bogus trouble ticket resolutions led to successful legal action against them to reclaim said charges, as well as fees for doing so in the first place. Since that, things have gotten better, but it still happens. At one install our tech found the N
  • Its suprising.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MortisUmbra ( 569191 ) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @06:38PM (#9199846)
    How few people here know who SBC is, I mean they are only in 13 states but still, SBC is one of the larget telecom companies in the US.
    There are some particularly interesting things to note about this strike (for the record I am one of the replacement workers set to go in to work when they go on strike, alongside alot of out of town SBC managers and some retired SBC workers).

    First off, the original strike deadline was set for the 7th of May, for some stupid reason the CWA decided to work through the deadline even though next to NO concessions were made by SBC, thus weakening their position.

    Second, as if it didnt seem dumb before, this isnt the first time the CWA tried this tactic, they previously did the same thing at Verizon last year, not suprisingly they ended up getting squeezed on most issues, including a ~$1 billion healthcare package.

    Third, the strike is, if you can believe this, a 4 day only quote a CWA spokesperson "this will show SBC how seriously we are taking this issue.", to show how serious you are, you worked through one deadline....set another, and then openly told them it would last no more than 4 days....thats serious folks.

    Also for what its worth the same spokesperson said the move was only 4 days because they dont want to inflict permanent damage to SBC's business, however at the same time they are mobilizing a carrier switch campaign aimed at persuading SBC's business customers to switch over to AT&T (who does business in 11 of SBC's 13 operating states).

    Personally I think the CWA workers have a D@MN good job, and even with the increases laid out in this plan have some excellent healthcare plans....however I feel bad for them because it appears their negotiators have their heads firmly implanted in their rectums.

    I honestly wish I could get by without taking this job because while I disagree with the unions I dont neccisarily like the idea of being a replacement worker, but apparently unbeknownst to the CWA workers, the economy sucks and IT jobs are about as scarce as it gets. But either way, as long as I make enough money to keep a roof over my head and they get enough of their demands met, I guess its a win/win.
  • by mc6809e ( 214243 ) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @07:46PM (#9200272)
    Labor union officials enjoy many extraordinary powers and immunities that were created by legislatures and the courts. Union officials claim to rely on the support of rank-and-file workers. Yet, they clamor in the political arena to secure and expand their government-granted powers, including the powers to shake down workers for financial support and even to wage campaigns of violent retaliation against non-union employees.

    The following list of special privileges reveals the extent to which union bosses have rigged our nation's labor laws in their favor.

    Privilege #1: Exemption from prosecution for union violence.
    The most egregious example of organized labor's special privileges and immunities is the 1973 United States v. Enmons decision. In it, the United States Supreme Court held that union violence is exempted from the Hobbs Act, which makes it a federal crime to obstruct interstate commerce by robbery or extortion. As a result, thousands of incidents of violent assaults (directed mostly against workers) by union militants have gone unpunished. Meanwhile, many states also restrict the authority of law enforcement to enforce laws during strikes.

    Privilege #2: Exemption from anti-monopoly laws.
    The Clayton Act of 1914 exempts unions from anti-monopoly laws, enabling union officials to forcibly drive out independent or alternative employee bargaining groups.

    Privilege #3: Power to force employees to accept unwanted union representation.
    Monopoly bargaining, or "exclusive representation," which is embedded in most of the country's labor relations statutes, enables union officials to act as the exclusive bargaining agents of all employees at a unionized workplace, thereby depriving employees of the right to make their own employment contracts. For example, the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) of 1935, the Federal Labor Relations Act (FLRA) of 1978, and the Railway Labor Act (RLA) of 1926 prohibit employees from negotiating their own contracts with their employers or choosing their own workplace representatives.

    Privilege #4: Power to collect forced union dues.
    Unlike other private organizations, unions can compel individuals to support them financially. In 28 states under the NLRA (those that have not passed Right to Work laws), all states under the RLA, on "exclusive federal enclaves," and in many states under public sector labor relations acts, employees may be forced to pay union dues as a condition of employment, even if they reject union affiliation.

    Privilege #5: Unlimited, undisclosed electioneering.
    The Federal Election Campaign Act exempts unions from its limits on campaign contributions and expenditures, as well as some of its reporting requirements. Union bigwigs can spend unlimited amounts on communications to members and their families in support of, or opposition to, candidates for federal office, and they need not report these expenditures if they successfully claim that union publications are primarily devoted to other subjects. For years, the politically active National Education Association (NEA) teacher union has gotten away with claiming zero political expenditures on its IRS tax forms!

    Privilege #6: Ability to strong-arm employers into negotiations.
    Unlike all other parties in the economic marketplace, union officials can compel employers to bargain with them. The NLRA, FLRA, and RLA make it illegal for employers to resist a union's collective bargaining efforts and difficult for them to counter aggressive and deceptive campaigns waged by union organizers.

    Privilege #7: Right to trespass on an employer's private property.
    The Norris-LaGuardia Act of 1932 (and state anti-injunction acts) give union activists immunity from injunctions against trespass on an employer's property.

    Privilege #8: Ability of strikers to keep jobs despite refusing to work.
    Unlike other employees, unionized employees in the private sector have the right to strike; that is, to refuse to work while keeping their job. In some
  • by dcavanaugh ( 248349 ) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @07:52PM (#9200305) Homepage
    I lose my SBC DS1 line every time it rains. They fumble and bumble, I lose a day's work, and my CEO gets grumpy. Eventually, the water evaporates and all of a sudden, it's "No trouble found". I don't see how a strike would change anything.
  • by Fortyseven ( 240736 ) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @08:28PM (#9200530) Homepage Journal
    Today was my last day as a 411 operator with SBC. Starting a new job next week. Yay, me.

    Anyways, SBC is fucking cheap. They make mad profit every year, but they can't afford a single water cooler for our little 90 person office on the shoreline in Connecticut. They want you plugged in and taking calls on time, but the clocks go unfixed. It feels like a fucking casino. A simple bit of routine maintenance. I'm surprised the mens bathroom light got fixed today.

    Good employees that make a company as profitable as it is, should not be treated like disposable trash.

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