Verizon App Lets Non-Unionized Workers Record, Report Unionized Labor

from the if-you-see-something-say-something dept

There’s a number of reasons Verizon is slowly exiting the fixed-line broadband business and focusing on wireless. One, wireless is notably less regulated than Verizon’s aging copper lines, which are saddled with “cumbersome” requirements that they keep these services (since they were largely paid for by taxpayer subsidies) active for folks like your grandma. Wireless is also far less unionized, with around 2% or less of Verizon’s 38,000 unionized workers employed on the wireless side. Since the data is usage-capped, wireless also has huge profit growth potential as Internet video explodes on mobile networks.

So hanging up on fixed-line assets makes business sense and is something the company has been working hard at, even if, as its treatment of Hurricane Sandy victims illustrated, this isn’t always done with much tact or honesty.

Verizon’s currently engaged in contract negotiations with the company’s 38,000 unionized workers at the CWA and IBEW, whose contracts expired August first. Negotiations haven’t been going so well, with the CWA threatening to strike and Verizon busily training 15,000 replacement workers should that happen (though, even with the contract expiring, the parties have agreed to keep negotiating without a strike for now). But Verizon’s also taking some other interesting precautions. The company is giving non-unionized workers an app in the hopes that they’ll record union workers engaged in bad behavior. Verizon says this isn’t to collect useful dirt on union employees, but to protect the company’s infrastructure:

“Amy Seifer, Verizon associate general counsel for labor and employment, told RCR Wireless News, ?The app serves three primary purposes: the first is a means for our management employees to report or document an unsafe situation, unlawful act, or violation of our code of conduct, and it will also be used by managers who have been assigned to these union positions for the duration of the strike to ask questions about installations or repairs they are handling. It also provides a means for our employees to submit suggestions on process improvements.”

In the age of everyone recording everyone else, it’s not too surprising that Verizon wants to keep a closer eye on union workers. But curiously Verizon’s interpretation of what can and can’t be recorded is, you’ll be shocked to learn, not exactly equitable. According to Verizon’s worker code of conduct (pdf), these union workers being recorded technically can’t record Verizon or these other non-unionized employees:

1.8.2 Use of Recording Devices

In many jurisdictions, use of recording devices without the consent of both parties is unlawful. Unless you are participating in an approved observation program or you have obtained prior approval from Security or the Legal Department, you may not record, photograph, or videotape another employee while the employee is at work or engaged in business activities or access another employee?s systems, records or equipment without that employee?s knowledge and approval. In addition, unless you receive prior approval from the Legal Department, you may never record, photograph or videotape any customer, business provider or competitor without that person?s knowledge and approval.”

Apparently, apps that let non-unionized employees track, monitor and report on unionized workers would be one such “approved observation program.” Union workers, should they strike next week, apparently won’t be enjoying the same privilege.

Filed Under: , , ,
Companies: cwa, ibew, verizon

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Comments on “Verizon App Lets Non-Unionized Workers Record, Report Unionized Labor”

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Coyne Tibbets (profile) says:

Recorders point both ways

“In many jurisdictions, use of recording devices without the consent of both parties is unlawful.”

But in many jurisdictions it is not. In every such jurisdiction, Union members should record union-busting activities, using their own app.

Also, I’m not a lawyer, so this needs legal consideration, but it has always seemed to me that if Joe is recording John, then Joe has implicitly given permission for John to record Joe. How can Joe say, “I never gave permission to record,” even as Joe is recording?

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