Posts Tagged MSOC

The Terminator

Hi, I’m an employee of AT&T and the following is my opinion.

I was told recently by a member of management that the company wanted my opinion on MSOC.  Someone from Atlanta would be calling me and I was encouraged to be honest and cooperative.  I was stunned by the announcement since my opinion and beliefs can be read at any time from my earlier blogs.  Supposedly, they didn’t mind my blog and thought it was one of the better ones out there.  Needless to say, no one called me about anything.  After thinking about it for a while and willing to give that party the benefit of the doubt(as I know they would do for me), I decided to make sure that everyone understood my thoughts about it.

As I believe it today, MSOC, the system used to rate technicians on their job performance, is merely a job termination program.  I believe it can be structured, not only to target specific groups, but to target individual employees for removal from the company.  Older workers are especially susceptible to being unable to make the benchmarks set by the system.  Older workers typically cost more in salary and benefits than younger workers.   However, cutting older workers constitutes illegal age discrimination.

There is a leadership plan called a vitality curve or “rank and yank” by others.  It seems to have originated with Jack Welch and supposedly gets rid of the bottom 10% of any workforce, the underperformers.  The plan gained GE a 5-fold increase in revenue between 1981 and 2001.  Mr Welch admitted that the judgments were “not always precise”.  An understatement I’m sure!  MSOC seems to be structured in a similar fashion.

It is certainly a fact that everyone works harder to keep their job!  The problem I see with MSOC is that the system itself has so many flaws in applying it to telecommunication outside plant as to render it unusable.  I will say that it is very useful in the hands of unscrupulous managers who have personal differences with individual employees.  A little tweaking and anyone will fail their daily and monthly numbers.  Keep me on chronic troubles all month and I’ll fail repeats.  Keep me on service orders and throw in a few chronic troubles and I’ll fail also.  Keep whipping me about dispatch efficiency and I’ll fail quality.  Make me gold plate everything to satisfy quality, and I’ll fail efficiency.  The criteria for rating are fuzzy and subjective.  It paints rural technicians and those in the city in like manner, even though of the two, the rural ones have much longer time/task.  Adjust the time I’m allotted for a job, and guess what, I will fail.  Have the IT department to put roadblocks in the software we use or just don’t fix the problems in the system we have now, and we fail… The list goes on and on.

The rank and yank system is forced on management employees as well.  In fact, if they don’t participate in playing god by identifying employees for termination, they themselves are terminated.  So you see, it would be easier on them to use other criteria in choosing which employees are terminated.  Those of a different religion, sex, political party, ethnic background, or culture can be arranged to fail first, keeping the heat off friends.  Maybe they have blogs they don’t like or live in a better neighborhood.  Good people are being hurt by this and for what reason?  Yes, of course, its money.  We need more of it to keep Wall Street happy.  Also, if one company does something and makes more money, all the companies have to follow the same plan even though implementation is difficult and subjective and rife with problems.

I know that in the group I work with, it would be impossible for me to choose who to fail each year.  I see good technicians who have been doing their job properly for a long time.  They know how to accomplish their daily tasks but have to deal with a system that regardless of success will fail the bottom performers.

MSOC is a cruel and heartless system which doesn’t work well in the outside telecommunication industry.  If I did the same thing every day, I could understand the measurement system.  I’ve asked for explanations on the grading and the answers all sound like this, “its difficult to explain”.  “It works on an algorithm, and I can’t explain it”.  “Well, the mileage it subtracts isn’t mile for mile… but it’s right”.  Every job I go on is different.  Every customer requires different amounts of time to complete the task to their satisfaction.  I complete every task the way I’ve been told to and yet, it doesn’t matter to MSOC.

It is my plea that we could return to the days we worked as a team to accomplish our tasks.  Lets get rid of the brutal, merciless system we have in place that destroys morale and puts good people out on the street.  There are technicians who work through their breaks and lunch, against federal law, just to make the numbers.  Let’s stop that and get back to honesty and true customer service.

By the way, GE doesn’t use it any longer.

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Don’t Hate Your Job

I am an employee of AT&T and the following is my opinion.

I haven’t written much lately about work, so I’ll bring you up to date.  I resigned from the Communication Workers of America (CWA) at the contract anniversary.  Just in case you didn’t know, that letter must be certified and received by the company and the union in the two weeks prior to that date.  I’ll even let you see what my letter stated;

This letter is to notify you of my separation from membership in the Communication Workers of America (CWA).  I wish for all payroll deductions of membership dues to cease immediately! 

 I was a member of the union for twenty-five years beginning in 1978.  I previously resigned membership over the issue of their political support for abortion.  I signed back on after the purchase of BellSouth by AT&T, but find little use for continued membership.

 The counseling entry that was placed in my personnel file on January 27, 2012 over MSOC results was removed July 27, 2012 by management.  My corresponding grievance was never scheduled nor met upon.   My “taxation without representation” will no longer be tolerated. 

The Union was absolutely no help, so it seemed silly to continue membership.  The dues I’ll be saving will be applied to the insurance that was negotiated for me in the new contract.  Thanks so much to CWA, because I know AT&T was having difficulty paying medical insurance with only $31.6 Billion in profit just in the first quarter of 2012!

I want to tell you a little about why I’ve slowed down on MSOC blogs when they are so popular.  The stress that all of AT&T employees feel these days is the same for me.  It seems everyone I talk to hates the management style being imposed on us.  A management source told me that they just want to get as much out of us as they can since they know things are winding down.  Well, when you set targets too high to reach and then punish employees when they can’t make it, the end doesn’t justify the means.  You are punishing good employees for nothing!

It became a tremendous burden for me because I’d always looked at my job as something I was good at.  But now, it didn’t matter what I did at work, I was basically unsatisfactory because I couldn’t leap tall buildings with a single bound!  I had to refocus because it was making me hate the company I worked for, and that just isn’t right!  I started working less overtime and picked up a couple of new hobbies.  I spent more time with family and became more involved at church.  In short, I stopped caring so much about making my numbers or trying to please management.  I still hate the fact that MSOC exists and love the fact that I am closer to retirement than yesterday!

After getting a phone call on a vacation day last week from a manager pointing a finger at something I’d done, I decided to bring the Burr back on line with a few changes.  I’ve allowed almost no comments to protect you from the company.  I know how vindictive they are so I felt shielding you was the best thing.  I think I’ve been a voice in the wilderness too long, some of you need to be out there too.  Beginning today, if you make a comment I’ll post it.  Remember to keep it clean and that I still have editing rights to make it family friendly.

I will also invite you to participate as a ghost writer or as a guest writer, if you have something that will help others that are going through difficult times.  You can drop me a line with any suggestions.

We are all just pilgrims here with an eternal home at stake.  Don’t do anything at work to damage what is waiting on you one day!  We do need to put faces and names on the numbers!  Let’s let AT&T see the hardship they place on people!  Employees are more than just a human resource!

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The Unrelenting Pharoah

Un-re-lent-ing – Not giving way to kindness or compassion.

Hi, I’m an employee of AT&T and today’s blog is of course, my opinion. 

That disclaimer came from an intracompany post concerning social media.  The company requested it be understood by all that anything placed by an employee online should be considered “just an opinion”.  I post it, because they asked…

I’ve been drawn to the story of Pharoah for the last couple of days.  A short outline of the whole story is from Exodus 7: 1-5,  The Lord said:  I am going to let your brother Aaron speak for you. He will tell your message to the king, just as a prophet speaks my message to the people. Tell Aaron everything I say to you, and he will order the king to let my people leave his country. 3-4 But I will make the king so stubborn that he won’t listen to you. He won’t listen even when I do many terrible things to him and his nation. Then I will bring a final punishment on Egypt, and the king will let Israel’s families and tribes go. When this happens, the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.

Moses found things just as God had said, especially the hard-hearted leader, who held in his hands the power to allow the Israelites to be free.  I’ve noticed that power and authority, in the hands of men, is always abused!  Pharoah is no different when it comes to a good thing.  He has cheap labor and for higher production, a rod to beat them with!

In the movie, the Ten Commandments, each scene, where a plague was about to take place, was so clean and sanitized.  I will give them credit for not adding too much to the Biblical narrative.  But you know, at first, there had to be some serious reasoning by Moses.  I can just imagine him telling the story of how the Israelites were faithful neighbors living in the land of Goshen, honored by the memory of Joseph, and the work he did to save Egypt during the famine.  In that historical narrative, we know from Exodus 1:8 that “a new king came to power.  He did not know what Joseph had done for Egypt, and he told the Egyptians, There are too many of those Israelites in our country… “  God still blessed the Israelites, even as slaves, and “because of this, the Egyptians hated them worse than before and made them work so hard that their lives were miserable.  The Egyptians were cruel to the people of Israel…”  It even reached the point where the King decreed that all male, slave babies were to be thrown into the Nile River.

I’m sure that Moses reminded the King about the good work the Israelites had done for him, and pointed out the marvelous monuments which dotted the landscape.  Being a man in authority, the King weighed the reasonings put forth by Moses and Aaron, and sadly chose a course of action which would ruin his life and seriously harm his own country.  The Bible says that God “hardened his heart”.  We don’t know exactly when that took place.  It may have been while reading his daily reports or “the numbers” produced by the slaves.  Much like the MSOC numbers that AT&T employees receive at work each day.  The numbers that are constantly changed and modified like a carrot moved further and further from an animal’s hungry mouth.  I believe the Israelite slaves were beaten and killed to achieve the goal of raising monuments to a short sighted, greedy, King.  Moses found his “let my people go” plea falling on deaf ears.

Today, a lot of cosmetics have been applied, but the goal is still the same.  Work hard and raise money for the corporate world leaders and the minions, who live off the crumbs from their table!  The 1% rule and the 99% drool.   CEO salaries have skyrocketed, even during the hard times that we’ve experienced lately.  Add to that the layer upon layer of management salaries, bonuses, retirement payouts, and stockholder dividends, and it is no wonder that everything we buy, costs so much.  Just like today, I imagine all of Pharoah’s minions shouting NO, NO, No, don’t let them go!  They probably imagined the hard times ahead if Pharoah relented and showed some compassion.  They might actually have to work for a living…  Of course, we know the story don’t we.  It cost Egypt dearly for their greed and stubbornness.

Compassion doesn’t cost much!  Not showing compassion, can cost everthing!  Hopefully, God wasn’t the one who hardened your heart…  that would mean He is going to get your attention!  He definitely got Pharoah’s attention!  It might be better to show Him some attention first, in the form of worship and showing a little compassion to your fellow-man.

Changing the topic, but not really changing the topic… our MSOC numbers did change in January, or early February.  I am now alloted .83 of an hour for most troubles and .61 for others.  Put your surgeon on that plan and see how it works out for you.  Sorry, doc, you’ve only got 30 minutes to figure out what’s wrong and fix it!  In January, the company placed the first, ever, entry in my file, for not doing my job correctly.  The entry is still there, and I mention it daily to someone!  To me, it is character assassination and an attack on my work ethic.  It has brought unnecessary stress and even fitful sleep at times.  They don’t understand that you should not beat an older employee with a rod to work harder and faster…  I am relentless in wanting that entry out and this should never have gotten this far in the public arena!  In my opinion, management is entirely to blame for this debacle.  I was told this week that I’m the only one in the crew getting a new truck… I never asked for a new truck.  I have asked over and over, to have the entry, which was unnecessary, taken out!

Mr. Stephenson, could you “let that piece of paper go”?  Your guys around here are unrelenting!

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A Terrorist and a Truck 2

I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist staying on the same theme.  Oh, wait, I forgot…

Hi, I’m an employee of AT&T and the following is my opinion.

Now, where was I?  Oh yeah, I was scheduled to work today, which is Saturday, as seems to be the rule nowadays.  I drove into the parking lot at eight o’clock, and instead of seeing the normal seven or eight cars, the lot was practically full.  I thought, “What’s going on?”  Something major must have happened!  I knew we’ve been fighting for every trouble this week, because the load was so light.  Most days, we would spend more time trying to find a trouble to go on, than fixing one, much like the old “maytag repairman” commercials.  Three of our maintenance guys reported in at seven o’clock and were already gone.  The first mile group also came in a seven, but they were still hanging around the lot.  One of their guys said it was a full call-out to work troubles, plus they would all be on troubles next week too.  A full call-out means everybody is invited to work overtime!

My only other maintenance cohort looked at the trouble load and it was zero!  We had nothing to do!  Upon hitting the “dispatch” button on my laptop, I pulled a job in Birmingham.  “Figures”, I thought.  So, I fought the inbound 280 traffic, that I hate so much, and spent the entire day in a different district!

In maintenance, we feel like Dorothy, in the Wizard of Oz.  We try to make sense of a confused world.  “Load Balance” is the wizard who directs us on various quests with a booming powerful voice that cannot be questioned!  All who hear must obey regardless of the instructions!  Even the dispatch “minions” are afraid to make simple helpful decisions, while we journey down the yellow brick road.  The wicked witch would be (can’t insert the name here), and his MSOC flying monkeys are ever alert, looking for errors in lost productivity.  Maybe one day, we’ll wake up to sing “Ding-Dong!  The Wicked Witch is gone!”  Till then… Dorothy, this ain’t Kansas anymore!

In Terrorist in a Truck, we discovered what virtual poles look like.  Today, I’ve got a combination shot of a virtual pole, along with a virtual conduit.  Is this not awesome?

The virtual conduit goes from the pedestal to a concrete culvert under the road.  For now, the property owner is mowing around the 25 pair cable on the ground.  He has been pretty nice about not hitting the cable that isn’t attached to the pole next to it.  It is probably attached to a virtual pole that is invisible.  Must be in the practice somewhere, or it just wouldn’t be that way!

In my last blog, I also included a picture of a cross connect box that needed some old jumpers pulled out.  Today, I saw one that made the first look, kinda okay.  I opened a box and saw this…

I thought, “this needs some routine work!”  Then, I opened the back side.

Here, is another MSOC fatality!  It’s about quality, quality, quality!  Somebody pull the curtain away from Oz, so we can see what leaders DON”T look like!

If MSOC were health care, the patient would be on hospice.  Is that what we want?  Is that where we’re missing the big picture?  If the landline business dies, is there a gazillion dollar inheritance for the cell side of the business?  If Ma Bell is so sick and dying, why are so many of her friends and customers still sending their dollars in.  Maybe we need to fire quack doctor Oz, and see a real specialist.  Ma may be ill, but she has a lot of good networking spirit left in her.  We’ve just got to get the MSOC poison out!

Now, this probably doesn’t make a lot of sense to those of you not familiar with MSOC.  It is the driving force behind productivity in our company.  It’s like putting your surgeon on a stopwatch to get in your heart fast, fix it, and get out, NOW!  It is rush, rush, rush, all day long.  “You’re not fast enough.”  “You’re numbers are bad, and we’re going to fire you.”  It is Foxconn for the telecommunication world!  There is no time for quality!  Fix it with a wire on the ground and go!  Hurry, hurry, hurry!  If you would like to see any of my other posts on the subject, click on “MSOC” in the tag cloud, on the right.

For a business to survive, it cannot have quantity and quality.  It must have a quality product delivered in a quick manner.  Quality comes first.  Customers do not want a product delivered quickly that doesn’t work.  Furthermore, it is ridiculous and redundant, to have so many groups who essentially do the same thing.  Stop hiding “head count” in the first mile group and let’s get back to old school.  In the beginning, there was maintenance, which fixed cable, and construction, which placed cable!  It was a simple concept which worked extremely well!

We do get a letter every now and then about quality, but I get numbers every day!  Numbers that compare me to every other technician.  It is posted on the wall for everyone to see, which is against existing privacy laws!  I have a counseling entry in my personnel file because I failed to make “MY NUMBERS” in December of last year!  Today, I heard about a guy with thirty-nine years service, who recently, received the same type entry.  And yeah, we’ll both retire pretty soon and all this will be over for us.  But we care about a network that was well-built, and one that could be around for a long time… if it was treated better!

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A Terrorist and a Truck

Kids, watch out walking between that communication pedestal and the pole!  Someone put a cone out here…

(put disclaimer here) Hi, I’m an employee of AT&T and the following blog is my opinion.

I received a company email recently about the fact that damage to communication facilities is considered a terrorist act and is punishable as a federal offense.  That’s funny in a way, not that damage to communication facilities should be punishable, just who are you going to punish.  I know, I know, the terrorist.  The funny part is, one man’s terrorist is another man’s accountant.

I’m reminded of the song Professional Pirate, sung by Tim Curry,  in the movie, Muppet Treasure island“When I was just a lad looking for my true vocation, my father said, now son, this choice deserves deliberation, though you could be a doctor or perhaps a financier, my boy why not consider a more challenging career…  Further into the song, “Now take Sir Francis Drake, the Spanish all despise him.  But to the British, he’s a hero and they idolize him.  It’s how you look at buccaneers that makes them bad or good, and I see us as members of a noble brotherhood, hey ho ho…

So, in other words, one man’s pirate (or thief or terrorist) is another mans’ financier (or manager).  That is just funny to me because I see so much that makes no sense in our business.  I know that I’m not able to see the big picture, or I’m not looking at the big picture… whatever cliché you wish to use. I know we need to get rid of our employees to make more money for the stockholders.  We need to sell off parts of the business that don’t make enough money, and we need to maximize our profits on the backs of the few employees we have left.  For those few, MSOC should be used with maximum effect to increase productivity so everything gets done everyday, on time, without any errors and with little or no overtime pay.  Any employee caught dawdling will be shot on sight…or better yet, put an entry in his file!

Maybe, everybody just needs to see things through my eyes a little… or through my lens.  You already know how I feel about MSOC and the “hurry up offense” that is fatal to good quality work.  It’s also costly and a tremendous waste of resources to send technicians all over the county on “demand” work only.  There is always “routine” work all around us, but we can’t do any routine work, that is an unpardonable sin!  Well, what has this awesome plan gotten for us?

  We have created “virtual poles”.  The fiber optic line in the picture, leaves the strand above and goes straight down into the ground.  The pole supporting and protecting it is invisible.  I’m not sure if this has been patented yet, but it seems to work okay.  There could be an issue when the county bushhog comes by.  Remember it takes a little more time to do things correctly.  It takes a LOT MORE TIME to correct them later!

The next picture is an improvement on the virtual pole.  It at least has some protection on the ground, just none above. If quickly done “dip” cables are the problem, maybe we should just take everything down lower…

If we laid everything on the ground, it would save a tremendous amount of time and money!  We wouldn’t need bucket trucks nor even the new virtual poles.  It’s amazing how much work is around and we still don’t need all those people on the surplus list.

Customers stop and think they’re doing a good deed by letting us know about this stuff.  “Yes, ma’am.  we know about it.  It was reported to construction and should be taken care of soon.” You can never give a timeline or an estimate.  Why?  Because most of the time it’s been on the ground six months already and I really don’t know when or if it will be fixed!

A guy in a cement truck stopped to let a tech know about these low cables over a county road recently.

He was afraid his truck would pull them down.  Yep, the calls were made and guess what?  Looks just like that today!

Here’s a better picture.   It’s right in front of a central office.  Two large cables and a couple of fibers cross the road here.  Shouldn’t be too hard to find and fix, just a transfer to a new pole.

There are other issues as well, not just with transfers and virtual poles.  Some cables need to be respliced completely, and not just a pair at a time.  The pair at a time would be the MSOC way.  There are guys who are so driven by making their numbers, they would drive to a spot, fix one pair…twenty-five times.  Why not just splice all 25 at one time?

The modules at the right were testing crossed with battery.  The top one was in a pedestal without gravel.  The best course of action is resplicing.  These are often associated with “come clear” troubles.  The problem goes away, when the sun dries out the moisture.  So yeah, there are troubles that disappear and then come back the next time it rains!  MSOC penalizes me for that!

My last picture is a nightmare for any technician trying to run new jumpers in a box that is already full.  The trouble here is two-fold.  It is a poor design for jumper routing and MSOC makes everyone hurry so they don’t take time to take out the old jumpers.  A technician from Miami told me they had boxes with wires laid on the ground from both sides.  We’re not quite that bad yet, but it’s just a matter of time(or lack of it)!

Some of you have asked about my grievance for my personnel entry.  It hasn’t taken place yet.  I did talk to a CWA representative who said I just needed to be thankful for my hourly wage.

I also had an inquiry about how does one get out of the union.  I believe you have to send a letter to CWA and the company, on the anniversary of the existing contract.  Some recomment “delivery confirmation” or “signature confirmation” letters to be sure of their arrival.  I believe there is only a two week window of opportunity.  I’d ask my union representative, but he’d just say it isn’t in the contract.  That seems to be their answer to most issues now!

Anyway, the next time you see someone damaging communication property, please report them to the proper authorities!  Hopefully, the proper authorities aren’t AT&T stockholders!

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Employee Hall of Fame

I’ve gotten inquiries wanting to know where I’ve worked with BellSouth.  I’ll give you a short history with a few names I’ve worked with.  If you recognize one, it will give you the time period.   The following order isn’t exactly correct but it’s close.  I went to the Test Center on three different occasions from surpluses or being bumped, so I’m listing only one to keep from sounding redundant.

I started as an Engineering Clerk in Decatur, Alabama.  I remember Stewart, Williams, Stanley, Fory, Pittman, Joe, Reba, and Alice.

I left there and went to Jacksonville, Alabama as a Service Technician and worked with; Hammett, Cheyne, Biggs, Coogler, Martin, Pope, Norton, Hopper, Wheeler, Winkler, Dempsey, Smith,

Stayed in Jacksonville until divestiture and went to the test center as a Maintenance Administrator.  There I worked with Pattie, Dot, Sharon, Oscar, BJ, Jane, Phyllis, Rick, Neil, Jack, Roy, Faye, May,

I enjoyed a short stay in Centralized Repair Service Attendant Bureau in Birmingham, Alabama.  I met Toni, Renae, Judi, Cynthia, Carol, Helen, and a host of others.

I worked as a Service Technician in the Homewood – Vestavia area of Birmingham for about a year before managing to get back to Gadsden.  Worked with a large number of guys but mostly Jim, Howard, and Hubert.

Back to Construction in Gadsden and worked with Whitehead, Jones, Alexander, Whiteside, Lance, Jeff, and Richard.

Another short trip from a surplus to Birmingham at the AOC as an Engineering Clerk again.  For some reason, Mr. Ferguson is the only name I can remember there.

I was able to get back to Gadsden as a Service Technician and worked with Lake, Daugherty, Wood, Payne, Moon, Maples, Powell, Smith, Walker, Brothers,Kilgo, and Correll.

I Volunteered to transfer to Albertville, Alabama to keep another technician from being force adjusted there and met… all the Chaffins.  All of them worked there and most were Baptist preachers.  I especially liked Ken!  I do remember you Gary, Neil, George, Stacy, Jim, Roger, and the other George.

From Albertville, Mr. Hopper talked me into bidding on a Cable Splicing job, in the construction department in Gadsden.  Surprisingly, I won the position.  I  worked in construction covering a five county area in North Alabama.  The longer I stayed, the less challenging it became, so I bid on and won an Electronic Technician job in downtown Gadsden.  I enjoyed the Central office work.  It was varied and pretty technical, especially dealing with a 5ESS switch.   There I worked with Richard, Don, Tim, Jami, Rick, Michael, Phyllis, Nancy, Ben, Janice, Johnny, Dixon, and Brenda.

After seven years as an ET,  MSOC came in and I could see the handwriting on the wall.  Needing to get out of the cage, I transferred to Hoover, Alabama as a Facility Technician.  We are getting into modern history now, so I’ll drop listing names.  That was only about seven years ago.  I stayed in Hoover for five years and I’ve been in Chelsea for two years.

Somewhere in that timeline there was also a short stint as a coin collector and I was loaned to the Assignment office in Decatur for a while.

You might think that with all those transfers, I must have been an unhappy employee.  That wasn’t the case at all.  The company really went through a period of turmoil after divestiture, and I was glad to be still working.  At one time, I was the most surplused/bumped in the State of Alabama.  They even wrote an article about it in one of the company publications.  The movement between jobs was tough on my family but it has allowed me to have a great overall view of how the various departments function to provide good service. I’ve worked with some awesome technicians over the years and I appreciate all that each taught me.

Thanks for taking the trip down memory lane.

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CWA – Missing in Action?

Communications Workers of America

Image via Wikipedia

Okay, missing in action may be a little harsh for my Communication Workers of America.  I was in a grievance meeting this morning, over AT&T not calling me in on my “off” day.  I didn’t know the meeting was happening, the steward only knew five minutes ahead of time and didn’t have a copy of the grievance.  Thank goodness he had already agreed with management the day before,  that there was absolutely no contract violations or we would have been in real trouble-lol.

Since the union and company have agreed they did nothing wrong and since I agree to disagree(it is still America), here is the problem.  Last year, the company established a group called “first mile” at our work center in Chelsea, Alabama.  This group was originally(we were told) going to work defective cable sections where Uverse had problems.  It’s seventeen member facility technician crew would be working construction and engineering jobs all over the Jefferson/Shelby county area.  They have since been tasked with working repair in the demand load each day, mostly in the Birmingham area.

The frustration we installation/repair technicians at Chelsea have,  is that they work in our repair load and on our “off” days, we are not invited to participate.  Past practice with the union contract entitled “off” day technicians, “penalty pay” for not being invited, when others enter your working area.  The three grievances I had, plus the ones filed by others were thrown out this morning.  We just want to understand how things have changed.

The “first mile” group doesn’t have MSOC numbers to contend with.  No GPS on trucks, no “out the gate time” to worry with.  They enjoy a monday through friday 7:00a-3:30p schedule with almost a guaranteed weekend call-out.  They refer cable troubles back to us if they want to, with no “referral penalty”, like we have.  About twenty technicians were surplused recently and “bumping lower seniority technicians within 35 miles” has started.  “First mile” has been excluded from any surpluses and from other surplused technician bumping them.  They are like the “super posse” in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  Can’t be stopped, can’t touch them, excluded from normal rules, and financially well backed.

Our first level meeting this morning was taken over by the visiting second level.  He advised us that they were a flex force.  Go anywhere, do anything, in any area and we basically didn’t have any room to complain.

Now, I’m probably telling you more than I should, but I’ve always heard that once the Union was done with a grievance, it was ok to ask elsewhere.  So, I’m asking elsewhere.  I know that even veteran managers can make mistakes.  Union people can be mislead.  There are “true and Intent” meanings in the union contract that only real experts can explain.  I’m sure that there are interpretations of “equalization of overtime” that could read like a novel.  “Past practice” grievances are also interpretative challenging.  Hey, if it was easy, there wouldn’t be grievances nor arbitrators.

I know there are union people in our 22 state area who have come across this issue.  I just want to know what you did and how was it solved.  Is there something we’re missing here?  If this group has fallen into the contract loophole zone and have become true Jedi, able to wield amazing powers… then I just want to be one.  Thanks in advance for any email or comments.  It may be the little help you give here, will also solve the mystery elsewhere.  I’m even ok with bad news, I’ve gotten a good bit of that lately.

I like CWA Local 3317’s quote from an Asian proverb, “An army of sheep led by a lion will always defeat an army of Lions led by a sheep”.  But I’ll leave you with a Bible verse.  1 Timothy 5:18 comes to mind…”For the Scripture says, Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain, and the worker deserves his wages.”

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