January 2013 District 4 OSH Conference Call

District 4 Occupational Safety and Health Conference Call Conducted Thursday, January 24, 2013 from 10:00 a.m.- 12:00 p.m.

  • Participants-

Collen Malcolm, Executive Vice President, and Mel Meyer, CWA Local 4008
Ryan Letts, President, CWA Local 4034
Keith Valko, CWA Local 4050
Gregg Wynn, President, CWA Local 4100
Marty Szliega, Executive Vice President, CWA Local 4108
Jason Kalish, CWA Local 4300
Pete Houvouras, Secretary-Treasurer, and John Flynn, CWA Local 4322
Bill D’Alessandro, President, CWA Local 4474
Mike Kudlewski, CWA Local 4603
Rob Boelk, President, CWA Local 4622
Jason Creger and Joe Alvarez, CWA Local 4900
Debra Fisher, IUE-CWA Local 84755
Paula Horan and
David LeGrande, CWA Occupational Safety and Health Director

  • Participant Reports/New Issues-

Pete Houvouras, CWA Local 4322, reported on the fatality and serious injuries suffered by two members/technicians employed by CTS Communications while they were performing work in northwestern New York. The events occurred when a motorist ran into the work area hitting both members. At present, the Federal OSHA in Buffalo, New York is investigating the incidents. Also, Pete indicated he and other Local 4322 officers and members were providing support to the family members. Pete said he would keep District 4 Headquarters, OSH activists, and CWA’s Occupational Safety and Health Department informed as the case progresses. Several participants talked about this preventable tragedy and the need to ensure employers are providing our members with the necessary safety and health education and job protections to prevent similar incidents.

    Greg Wynn, CWA Local 4100, mentioned an armed robbery involving the shooting of a local member/AT&T technician recently occurred. Fortunately, the member was treated at a nearby medical facility and is recovering. In response to this incident, Greg noted Local 4100 has notified members employed as technicians who are faced with performing work in a dangerous area and/or are physically threatened to leave the work area and contact their supervisor. Emphasizing the importance of ensuring one’s life not be threatened during the performance of their jobs, Greg indicated he has brought this issue to the immediate attention of AT&T for resolution. Participants, agreeing with this approach, noted the similarity with this incident and the September, 2012 fatality of our Local 6360 brother (Kansas City, Missouri)/AT&T technician who fatally assaulted. Greg said he would keep District 4 staff, local leaders and OSH activists, and CWA’s Occupational Safety and Health Department informed of future developments.

    Jason Creger, Local 4900, introduced himself as the local’s occupational safety and health chair noting he would be working closely with Joe Alvarez in his grant training activities. Further, Jason discussed the night-time workplace hazards faced by members employed as telecommunications technicians noting the need to ensure the employer- AT&T- be pressed to provide safe and healthful working conditions. Several participants concurred with this concern and discussed their work to ensure the company provides adequate and safe working conditions.

    Joe Alvarez, Local 4900, reminded participants that Bryon Capper, former CWA Representative retired during October 2012. Bryon had served as the CWA District 4 staff with occupational safety and health responsibilities. Joe mentioned he has been in touch with District 4 Vice President Linda Hinton as well as Jerry Schaeff, Vice President Hinton’s Assistant, regarding Bryon’s replacement.

    • CWA District 4/AT&T Occupational Safety and Health Committee- 

    Given the retirement of Bryon Capper, CWA Representative, there was no report provided.

      • CWA/USW Occupational Safety and Health Training-

      Debra Fisher, IUE-CWA Local 84755, Joe Alvarez, CWA Local 4900, and David LeGrande highlighted the CWA/USW training under the union’s grant funded by the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences. During 2012, Debra and Joe conducted several training sessions involving members of IUE-CWA Local 84101, 84707, 84755, 84800, 84811, and CWA Locals 4300, 4319, 4320, 4322, 4340, 4470, 4474, 4603, 4630, 4773, 4780, 4900, and 14430. Mike Kudlewski, CWA Local 4603, was introduced as the newest District 4 safety and health grant trainer. In 2013, Debra, Joe, and Mike indicated an increased number of training sessions will be held.

      • CWA Heat Stress Campaign-

      David LeGrande reported on the continuing development of Heat Stress education and training materials and training sessions. This addition to the grant training program has been recognized by NIEHS as an official part of the CWA/USW grant training. During 2013, the Occupational Safety and Health Department will continue to place emphasis upon this most important safety and health issue. Several participants indicated they have used the training materials in their local union as well as shared them with management representatives.

      • Central Office Batteries-

      David LeGrande summarized the successful activities involving Local 6222 at represented AT&T central offices. After several months of delay, the company has initiated the removal and replacement of damaged/acid-leaking central office batteries. This work has led the company to conduct central office battery inspections throughout District 6 replacing damaged batteries as required. This activity has led to both improved member working conditions as well as earned respect from the company for work conducted by CWA staff and local union safety and health activists. Call participants noted AT&T has correctly assigned contract maintenance workers to identify and, as necessary, replace damaged batteries throughout District 4. David congratulated folks for staying on top of this important issue asking them to continue to keep him informed.

      • CWA Customer Service Conference, October, 2012

      David LeGrande and participants discussed highlights of the October, 2012 CWA Customer Service Conference. Key elements included the emphasis upon legislative issues and occupational stress. During the conference, a report on the recently-completed CWA Customer Service Occupational Stress Survey was given. Following this presentation, a separate workshop was devoted to a discussion of the survey results and local union activity.

      • 2012 Elections-

      Participants commented on the Union’s hard work and many successes achieved in the 2012 elections. However, all agreed CWA needs to continue its efforts to help elect our friends and have them work for and implement progressive policies- including occupational and environmental safety and health.

      • Date of the Next CWA District 4 Occupational Safety and Health Conference Call-

      The next CWA District 4 Occupational Safety and Health Conference Call will be held on Thursday, April 11, 2013 from 10:00 a.m.- 12:00 p.m. (EST).