Bargaining with Frontier will resume on Tuesday, February 20, 2018. This follows a three-week recess necessitated by the unavailability of the Company Bargaining Committee.
To date, the Union and the Company have not reached a tentative agreement on any issues. Critically important to CWA are employment security; quality, affordable healthcare; and the reduction of contractors and securing bargaining unit work.
The #1 bargaining priority identified by the membership is employment security. The majority of the bargaining unit have employment security under the current contract. Specifically, those in the bargaining unit as of ratification of the current agreement have employment security. More than 200 members do not have employment security. These are members that transferred or hired in after ratification of the current agreement and those that accreted in from the Legacy Bargaining Units. The Union Bargaining Committee has demanded the continuation of employment security for those that currently have it and the expansion of employment security for those that do not.
Adding emphasis to the importance of employment security is the Company’s notice of potential layoffs. In December 2017, Frontier declared a surplus in various titles and locations throughout the bargaining unit and made an Enhanced Income Security Plan (EISP) offer to those eligible. In conjunction, the Company gave contractually required 90-day notice of its intent to layoff if sufficient EISP volunteers were not received in the Ashburn Network Operation Center, Bluefield Assignment, Wheeling Collections, and in multiple garages and central offices throughout the state. The number of EISP volunteers was less than the number declared surplus in the majority of the titles/locations. After having completed the EISP offer, Frontier has not informed CWA if it intends to follow through with layoffs. The timing of the 90-day notice would not permit the Company to proceed to layoffs until mid-March, which is after the current agreement expires (March 3, 2018). The Union Bargaining Committee is resolute in its aim to secure employment security for all.
Ranking #2 in members’ priority is maintaining quality, affordable healthcare. The Union has shown willingness to make modest changes to the healthcare plan and participated with the Company in an extensive review of the plan utilizing third party consultants. This review concluded in November 2017. Yet, to date, the Company Bargaining Committee has not responded to the Union’s June 2017 healthcare proposal. The Union Bargaining Committee has impressed upon the Company, given the short amount of time remaining until expiration, the urgency of addressing the specifics of this mutually important issue.
The #3 priority identified by the membership was the reduction of contractors and securing bargaining unit work. The Union has demanded the elimination of all contractors, as well as, the renewal of all agreements that limit the movement of work outside the bargaining unit and provides exclusivity over certain work. The Company has proposed to eliminate these protections, including the Outside Plant Copper Cable Splicing Letter of Understanding, Broadband Network Employment Security Provisions, and the WV State-Based Call Center Work Routing Letter of Understanding. The Union Bargaining Committee remains determined to protect our work.
Other notable, unresolved issues include:
- The Union Bargaining Committee has demanded substantial base wage increases, which reflect our members’ contribution to the business.
- The Union Bargaining Committee has proposed the continuation of the Frontier-CWA WV Coordinator, which provides members a much needed resource and liaison when dealing with benefit issues, and the Wellness Committee, which has proven successful in addressing systemic benefit related issues. The Company has proposed to restructure both in such a way that it would minimize the usefulness and effectiveness of both.
- The Union Bargaining Committee has proposed the continuation of the Training Advisory Council (FrontierRising) and Advisory Council on Family Care along with appropriate funding. The Company has proposed to eliminate both.
Additional concessions sought by the Company Bargaining Committee, but opposed by the Union are:
n to the EISP, which would allow the Company sole discretion to offer the enhanced benefit prior to proceeding to a layoff (currently, the Company is required to do so prior to proceeding to layoff);
- reduction in the ability of employees to schedule vacation if requested within 72 hours, the addition of the right of the Company to deny any and all vacation request during severe service disruption, and the elimination of Short Notice Excused Work Days;
- reduction of Exempt Days from four to one and elimination of the lump sum payout that recognizes the good attendance record of those that have only two to four days of incidental absence in a calendar year;
- elimination of the Medically Restricted Policy, which provides protections for members experiencing health issues that prevent them from performing an essential function(s) of their job;
- unnecessary modification to Article 3. – Payroll Deduction of Union Dues, Etc. and Article 4. – Agency Shop.
The Union Bargaining Committee will continue working to achieve a fair contract. Members are urged to stay engaged. Wear black and participate in statewide picketing on Friday, February 23, 2018. Show our solidarity on CWA STRONG sticker day on Wednesday, February 28, 2018. WEAR RED EVERY THURSDAY! Contact your Local’s Mobilizer to learn of other ways to show your support. This is OUR fight. Together, we will prevail!
The next Bargaining Report will be provided on Friday, February 23, 2018 (unless happenings at the bargaining table merit sooner).
BE INFORMED! BE INVOLVED! IT’S YOUR FIGHT! IT’S YOUR CONTRACT!