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New Mexico Workers Testify for Ban on Captive Audience Meetings

5_New_Mexico_Hearing

Workers and CWA activists testify before a New Mexico House committee on the need to ban employer captive audience meetings.

CWAers, including current and former T-Mobile workers from Albuquerque, testified before a House committee of the New Mexico state legislature in favor of a bill barring employers from holding captive audience meetings in the workplace.

House Bill 277, introduced by Rep. Christine Trujillo, would prohibit employers or their agents from requiring workers to attend any meeting, "the purpose of which is to express the employer's opinion about religious or political matters."

Lynda Parrish, a current T-Mobile USA worker, testified about the mandatory meetings at the call center. "We were advised that we shouldn't worry about union representatives or supporters being able to interact with us, as T-Mobile personnel would be patrolling the grounds to prevent any interaction. I felt so intimidated after the meeting and since then it has created a consistent, underlying sense of fear in me."

Glenda Winternheimer, an organizer with CWA Local 7011, presented testimony from George Ramirez, a former T-Mobile USA worker who was forced to resign due to the company's continued harassment over his support for CWA, and Candace Harrison, a current T-Mobile USA worker.

Ramirez's testimony recounted a captive audience meeting of a year ago, when the team manager called workers off the phones for about 5 minutes to read a letter that supposedly had the "facts" about joining a union, from lies the union would tell to union dues. No one was permitted to ask any questions. Ramirez and two other co-workers already had written a letter to management about their support for a union at the Albuquerque call center.

Harrison's statement summarized a mandatory meeting in March 2012, when workers were required to stay at the end of their shift. The managers told workers they could not have any conversations about the letter that would be read, nor could they respond to the letter in any way. Harrison interpreted this letter as a warning; so did other workers who were very reluctant to talk about how a union can improve working conditions.

"I don't think it is a company's right to force people to listen to its one sided statements without giving employees the right to discuss issues right then and there. These meetings are designed to intimidate workers, and management is very successful at it," Winternheimer said.