Union Gets Into Ex-TCI Systems

The Communications Workers of America is forging inroads among AT&T Corp.'s cable workers, unionizing 16 sites since the company took over operations from Tele-Communications Inc.

TCI had aggressively opposed unionization, and some of that opposition persists under new management. So union and AT&T officials met last spring to negotiate a Neutrality and Consent Election agreement, in which AT&T agreed to let workers attempt to organize without direct opposition from the company.

Still, two unsuccessful elections over the last year were overturned after an arbitrator determined that management interfered with the election.

The latest shop to approve the union is in Short Hills, Pa., where in April 140 cable technicians were certified as a bargaining unit. During a vote last August, a majority failed to approve CWA membership.

But an arbitrator determined the company violated the non-interference agreement in its workplace pos
tings, ordering a new election. Union approval came during what is called a "card check" ballot.

Then the site's nine customer sales and service representatives approved the union, on a 6-1 vote, in May. The groups must now bargain for contracts.

The CWA push began with the unionization of workers in Gillette and Casper, Wyo. Thirteen workers there negotiated a contract for about a year.

Other areas approving the union include Springfield and Hannibal, Mo.; Ocean City, Md.; Montrose/Delta, Colo.; State College, Pa. (where the bargaining unit includes warehouse and high-speed-data technicians); Rawlins, Wyo.; Clinton and Iowa City, Iowa; Gallup, N.M., and Beaverton, Wash.

The bargaining unit was certified for 75 workers in Dallas and Arlington, Texas, but only after an arbitrator's intercession. An election last August failed by a narrow margin, but union officials complained about a meeting called on the day of the election by a regional vice president for AT&T Broadband. The arbitrator set aside the election results and recognized the union.

The first former MediaOne Group Inc. property to approve unionization for 106 technicians is in Hialeah, Fla.