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Minimum Additional Training Arbitration

We received the Arbitrator's decision late Friday and the decision was in favor of the Company.  What the results of this decision mean to every member is not totally clear at this point.  I spoke with Tim Smith, VP of the Southeast Operations late Friday night and we have a meeting tentatively scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.  We will be discussing every available option for the FNFT's who were declared surplus earlier this year.  We will be talking to the Officers and Chief Stewards after this meeting and then updating the website again as well.

Robert

*** Update ***

The meeting between the Union and Company will be on Wednesday (Sept 30th) afternoon.  An update will follow.

*** Update ***

After several discussions late this afternoon with Labor Relations, the meeting was postponed until Friday morning.  The reason for the delay is to review all available options for the employees who were to be force adjusted/laid off on September 18th.  After the meeting, an update will be posted.

After several discussions and emails from members who are being force adjusted/laid off within the Inside Plant, we have been a part of every discussion concerning these surpluses as well.  Secondary "bumps" have already occurred and the 3rd "bump" is forthcoming.  We are a part of this process to make sure the Company abides by the Collective Bargaining Agreement and to answer contractual questions from the members involved.  If you are told that you are being "bumped", please make sure that your union steward is present or call the union hall.

Cable Splicers

On Monday, September 21st, a meeting was held between the Union and the Company to discuss the 3rd quarter surplus.  The members have been doing a great job sending information on contractors to the Hall and this was discussed with the Company.

Out of the 51 Cable Splicers that were declared surplus, 9 elected to take the ISP and leave the property, which still left 42 company-wide.  The 42 remaining Splicers will not be involuntarily "bumped" or laid off and will continue to reside in the Cable Splicer classification.  We anticipate more contractors leaving the property to provide work for the Splicers.

Membership Training

We had our first Membership/Code of Excellence Training class at the Hall yesterday with 37 members in attendance.  The history and structure of our local union, workers' rights, contractual issues and questions, and obligations of union members were among the subjects discussed.  The feedback from the members' who participated was totally positive with comments such as these:  "This training class was well organized and executed...the education of members as to the workings and importance of the union was well worth the input effort."  "Worthwhile for ALL members to attend." "The 'how to' be a good union member exercise was good."  

We received several calls at the Hall today from members who have already heard about the first class and want to attend as soon as possible.  The next class will be on the 23rd of September and we have weekly classes already on the books throughout October.  If you would like to have your name added to attend an upcoming class, please contact a Rep at the Hall.

Friday, August 14th, 2009

This afternoon a meeting was held with my staff and Kwame Trotman and Joe Lambrana. 

The first topic of discussion was the Circuit Repair Group (T&P), where the Union explained that this work is and always has been a job function of a Customer Zone Technician II (CZT II).  We explained all the reasons why this work needs to go back to the CZT II's and we will get a response early next week.  If the company does bring the work back to the proper classification, they will have tours that run 24 hours just as they do for the new group that was formed.  We will notify the Chiefs if and when a decision has been made.

Next we talked about the employees that have been on-loan for more than 180 days and were told that the Company is in the process of moving those employees back to their original work group.  In regards to this subject, we stated that we have employees who have been on-loan to various classifications, in some cases, for several years.  It seems to us, that we may possibly need to create a couple new job titles, and free up some slots for other employees that may be looking for openings in the near future.  We also explained that we need to do everything possible to find positions for members that may be affected by the current surplus or any future surplus.  Further discussions on this issue will be occuring soon.

Part of the 180 day on-loan also includes the CORE Splicer Fluid work group.  There are quite a few in this group that have been performing CZT II work for 3 continous years, working the predominant tour, Monday through Friday.  The Union did NOT request the Company place the Fluid work group on a Saturday rotation.  What we requested, and will continue working on, is to have CZT II positions filled, either through volunteers or by bid.  This will relieve the amount of Saturdays worked by the CZT II classification and help the Splicers go back to their Monday through Friday work week.  Hopefully, we can resolve this issue soon and will update the website when we have more information.

We also talked about the tours for the CZT II's thoughout the Company.  The tours were changed from 7:30-4 to 8-4:30 a couple of months ago.  Kwame stated that he would look at changing the tours back after the rainy season has ended.  As our CBA states - Article V, Section 2, paragraph 2.1 - ...The Company shall have the right to schedule all work periods and the starting and ending time of each.  You can see that the tours are not a grievable item, but the Company knows that we want to have the tours changed back to start at 7:30.

We have made some headway in regards to the discipline meted out for grounding and bonding.  There are a few details that need to be worked out, which should occur next week and then the affected employees will be notified.

Another issue that is hopefully resolved has to do with overtime and callout.  Over the last couple of years, when the Company has called for OT or callout, the employee would be notified on his Company cell phone instead of being notified at home.  The calls should begin coming to your home phone or your personal cell, whichever is listed with the Company as your contact number.  Please verify with your supervisor that they have your correct contact info.  Remember, the Company cell phone belongs to the Company. 

Cisco Training Classes

Posted in
As you may know, we have had members sign up for Cisco training classes on their own time, but paid for by the Company over the past few months.  These classes are not graded and are held in a hotel.  If an employee applies for tuition assistance for these classes, their application will be denied.  If you have already taken the class or in the process of taking the class, you will not be held liable for payment.  But, if an employee has signed anything saying THEY would pay, they could end up being held responsible for that payment.  DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING THAT SAYS YOU WILL PAY!

NEW Verizon Gas Cards

On July 23rd a conference call took place with the members of the TCC II.  Most of the conversation dealt with the potential sale of Verizon properties to Frontier.  In several states, the IBEW and the CWA and various citizens watch groups are challenging the sale.  When more information becomes available, I will post on this site. 

Also, Myles Calvey, President of the TCC II discussed the new Verizon gas cards.  Myles was assured by Verizon that there was NO personal employee information associated with the card.  The following information was also shared in regards to the new card:

  • Card can be used for any vehicle # in the system.
  • All gas stations that were used previously can still be used.
  • No VZID on card.
  • Cards are state specific (cannot use a Florida card in Virginia, etc…)
  • Old cards are still usable until August 2nd, unless any issues come about with the new cards. 
  • No contract between employee and gas companies (contract is between Voyager and Verizon)
Hopefully this clears up any concerns with using the new cards.

Surplus announced July 23rd, 2009

This afternoon, the Union was notified of a new surplus within several classifications.   Meetings will be held with the employees in the effected classifications on Friday, July 24th.  An Income Security Plan (ISP) will be offered to all employees within the effected classifications.  The ISP language can be found in the Collective Bargaining Agreement starting on page 120.  The ISP package will be mailed to all employees in the effected classifications tomorrow, July 24th.  (More information regarding the ISP can be found in another article on the Union's home page.)  The window for the ISP opens on July 31st and closes on August 13th.  The last day on property for those that elect to take the ISP will be August 29th, 2009.  If you are in an effected classification and DO NOT receive a package, please call Verizon Labor Relations at 813.483.2246.

*** UPDATE ***

Click on the link to view the classifications involved in the ISP/Surplus

On-Loan and THC Issues

Since a lot of questions have arose as to why we are addressing the issue with the employees on loan to other departments and those THC’ing to a higher classification or to management, we felt it was necessary to explain here to eliminate some confusion.

In Article XV of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between IBEW LU 824 and Verizon, Section 2, Paragraph 2.1 states the following:

The selection of employees for temporary assignment(s) will be made by
management. Effective January 1, 2006, temporary assignments may be for up
to one hundred eighty (180) days on a calendar year basis. (P.43)

Article XV, Section 4, Paragraph 4.1 states the following:

    The selection of employees for temporary assignment(s) will be made by
management. Temporary assignment(s) may be for up to one hundred eighty
(180) days on a calendar year basis. (P.44)


We feel the Company likes to pick and choose which part of the contract that they want to abide by and only if it is convenient for them.  In case you were not aware, we had 14 Fiber Network Field Technician’s (FNFT) laid off in the Southern Division on June 25th, 2009.  On a continuous basis, we have Contractors doing our construction work while Cable Splicers are temporarily assigned to the CZT II classification.  We also have FNFT’s working in the CZT II classification on a daily basis.

The 180 days was negotiated to prohibit the Company allowing the same employee or employees to work in a different job title instead of performing the functions within their own job title.  With the surpluses being announced, we need to know what job titles, if any, have vacancies that we may be able to fill with employees who have been declared surplus. 

We have been notified that several ACOM's are in the process of bringing employees back to their regular work group and we will continue to press this issue until the Company lives up to the language WE negotiated together.

Thursday, July 23rd

This morning we met with the new Vice-President of Operations, Tim Smith, for the Florida Region.  The discussions centered on the Union and the Company working together to retain work in our Region and also to gain more work to keep our members employed here in Florida.

New marketing strategies were discussed, with the focus on winning back customers that have left Verizon and also on gaining new customers to the FIOS network.  We spoke about all the issues that you are already aware of (billing, IVRU, etc…) that still need some work.  I advised the Company this morning that the Union wants to work with the Company, and we have heard the word “flexibility” too much in the past and that the membership needs to see that the Company is willing to work with them as well.

Since Tim Smith is V.P of Operations, we brought up the following issues to him:

T&P (Circuit Repair Group)
Scheduling
Equalization of Overtime
Regional Dispatching
180 day On-Loan

Last week, we spoke with the Chief Stewards to find out what they thought the top issues in their areas were and that is how this list was devised.  When I have more information, I will post on the site.

In Solidarity,
Robert

FSRC/SOM

In late June, the Sell One More work that was being performed in the Wentzville office started transitioning to the FSRC located in St. Petersburg.  Members were being trained to take on this additional work in our Offline Center and as a result several issues needed to be addressed.  A meeting was held today with myself, Dan Wagner, Tina Tyler (Chief Steward) and Sue Jerome (steward) in attendance.  We were assured by management that the Reps performing this new task would NOT be required to sell, would NOT have a sales quota or a sales objective.  After a short period of time, this new function would have a coefficient assigned, just as other tasks in the center currently have.  Over the last couple of weeks, the Reps in this center have been receiving conflicting information regarding this new task.  Management agreed to start communicating this information to the members, beginning tomorrow. 

In Solidarity,
Robert

*** UPDATE ***

This afternoon (Wednesday, July 22nd), Val DeCastro, Manager of the FSRC notified me to say that she had scheduled 4 hours tomorrow to conduct the meetings in regards to the SOM issues that were discussed yesterday.

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