Aug 10, 2012
CWA District 6 Occupational Safety and Health Conference Call
Conducted Thursday, July 19, 2012 from 9:00- 10:30 a.m. (CST)
Darlene Kirchgessner, President, CWA Local 6128
Mark LaRousse, President, CWA Local 6139
Randy Rodriguez, CWA Local 6222
Mike Barban, Vice President, CWA Local 6300
Erin Hall, President, CWA Local 6316
Derrick Inscho, Vice President, CWA Local 6360
Jim Billedo, President, CWA Local 6312
Tim Andrews, Secretary-Treasurer, CWA Local 6508
Charlie Torres, CWA Representative
David LeGrande, CWA Occupational Safety and Health Director
- Participant Reports/New Issues-
Mike Barban, CWA Local 6300, reported AT&T is refusing to make work accommodations for/provide light duty work to qualifying technicians forcing them to use FMLA time and then moving towards termination. As a result, the local is actively working with the district office in helping to organize a class-action lawsuit against the company.
Randy Rodriguez, CWA Local 6200, suggested using OSHA’s Whistleblowers.org if/when the Company tries to remove workers from their jobs due to occupational injuries.
Regarding the accommodation of members needing well-designed (ergonomic) physical equipment such as chairs and adjustable keyboards, Derrick Inscho, CWA Local 6360, mentioned AT&T continues to make requested changes, however, only on an individual request-by-request basis. However, in one instance, the Company indicated it would replace a poorly-designed chair, but merely provided the same poorly-designed chair.
Erin Hall, CWA Local 6316, said they were having problems with AT&T providing inadequate accommodations regarding keyboard-related health issues. Also, the Company is not moving on providing well-designed chairs.
Derrick Inscho, CWA Local 6360, indicated he was still working with the Company to have it replace chairs.
Darlene Kirchgessner, CWA Local 6128, mentioned they had received new, well-designed chairs last year, but were having problems with inadequate indoor air quality. Charlie Torres suggested bringing this matter to AT&T’s attention through the
CWA/AT&T Joint Occupational Safety and Health Committee. David LeGrande noted although there are no federal OSHA standards re. indoor air quality, there areexcellent standards developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). He offered assistance as necessary.
Erin Hall, CWA Local 6316, reported on the issue of the Company providing adequate bathroom-time accommodations for customer service representatives. AT&T has allowed service representatives to take additional bathroom time, however they have to make up the time at the end of the shift. David LeGrande saidthe Company’s actions appear to be discriminatory and suggested using the OSHA Sanitation Standard and notifying AT&T it must provide adequate accommodations during regular work time.
David LeGrande raised the issue of life-threatening asbestos exposures involving telecommunications craft workers. He highlighted two cases (involving Locals 3616 and 4603) involving asbestos floor tile and mastic adhesive within AT&T central offices in which CWA local officers and OSH activists worked to ensure members were not exposed to hazardous levels of airborne/friable asbestos.
An additional case involved the efforts of Locals 2201, 2222, and 2275 officers and OSH activists working to ensure Verizon provided protections for members whoperformed telecommunications work in a construction setting. This case involved use of the grievance and OSHA complaint processes to reach resolution. In providing the details of each case, David noted the Union acted aggressively in bringing theses issues to management’s attention to ensure adequate protection for CWA members.
- CWA District 6/AT&T Occupational Safety and Health Committee- Charlie Torres indicated the Union has successfully brought the safety and health issues associated with central office batteries to AT&T’s attention gaining agreement to address CWA’s concerns. Thus far, spurred by the efforts of Randy Rodriguez, Local 6222, AT&T has initiated procedures to remove all defective, damaged batteries from central offices. Charlie encouraged participants to conduct investigations to ensure central office batteries are operating properly and not damaged. Also, he thanked participants for continuing to bring safety and health issues to his attention and introduction as discussion/resolution items with AT&T management.
- CWA/USW Occupational Safety and Health Training- David LeGrande summarized the development and status of the CWA/USW National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences-funded grant training activities as well as the conducting of joint occupational and environmental safety and health conferences. In turn, Randy Rodriguez, CWA Local 6222, discussed the successful training sessions he has conducted within District 6. During 2012, sessions involving more than 150 members have been held at/with CWA Local 6201(Ft. Worth, Texas) 6132 (Austin, Texas), 6143 (San Antonio, Texas), and 6222 (Houston, Texas). An additional training session will be conducted July 31 with/at CWA Local 6312, Springfield, Missouri. Of significance, participants have been extremely praiseworthy of the training calling for expansion of the Union’s occupational safety and health training activities. Randy encouraged participants to work with David and himself in scheduling training and conducting follow-up safety and health activities.
- CWA Heat Stress Campaign- David LeGrande reported on the continued success of the Union’s Heat Stress Campaign. In addition to further identification activities and work with CWA locals throughout the country, inclusion of heat stress training within the one-day grant-sponsored safety and health training sessions has been received extremely well by participants- more than 800 local union leaders and OSH activists have participated in these session during 2012. Of particular importance, training participants have used/are using the acquired safety and health information to ensure represented employers are providing safe and healthful working conditions and correcting identified heat stress hazards.
Regarding heat stress, Derrick Inscho, CWA Local 6360, asked participants whether they/their locals were conducting heat stress mobilization activities, noting Local 6360 had distributed educational materials and Gatorade to technicians. These efforts received a very positive response from affected members.
- 99% Training- David LeGrande discussed the successful addition of conducting 99%/CWA Political Action training following the one-day safety and health training sessions. With the idea of helping to prepare participants for activity in the upcoming federal, state and local elections, this training has been of great use.
- Republican Congress Assault on Occupational and Environmental Safety and Health- David LeGrande reported on the assault by Republican members of Congress against workplace and environmental safety and health. He suggested we should expect this behavior to continue until we are able to elect worker/environmental friendly candidates to Congress (and other public offices).
- Date of the Next CWA District 6 Occupational Safety and Health Conference Call-
The next District 6 Occupational Safety and Health Conference Call is scheduled for Thursday, October 18, 2012 from 9:00- 10:30 a.m. (CST).