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: broadband, installation, monitoring, unions
Companies: cwa, ibew, verizon


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  • identicon
    avideogameplayer, 4 Aug 2015 @ 3:20pm

    Unfair labor practices anyone?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Aug 2015 @ 4:08pm

    the non-union workers will expect to get the same benefits, if any, that are obtained by the union guys though!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    andy, 4 Aug 2015 @ 4:09pm

    MMMM

    Verizon is going to learn a very hard lesson very quickly by turning staff against each other, i doubt it will be long before we see more and more problems with their network, especially if they try to get others to cover the workers if they go on strike.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Aug 2015 @ 5:19pm

    The Non-Unionized workers who agree to do this or are actually recording other employees will realize that one day after Verizon successfully kills the Union their wages will shrink drastically , Verizon will have zero reason to pay a Non Union worker more without the worry of a Union being there.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Keroberos (profile), 4 Aug 2015 @ 9:43pm

    Want to bust up organized labor? ...There's an app for that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), 4 Aug 2015 @ 10:07pm

    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?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 5 Aug 2015 @ 4:22am

      Re: Recorders point both ways

      That. If Verizon is giving explicit permission for non-unionized workers to record others those others can and should record back. The upside is that it may keep the negotiations clean and with luck expose even more dirt from Verizon.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    JoeDetroit (profile), 5 Aug 2015 @ 4:57am

    Line lines include fiber

    4G is all about fiber. That fiber infrastructure is built & maintained by these "land line union employees". Verizon wants to claim they need concessions because they are "losing money" on land lines when they are making billions.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      edinjapan (profile), 5 Aug 2015 @ 6:54am

      Re: Line lines include fiber

      Does Verizon even have fiber installed? If they did then they should be offering the new 10Gbps service that NTT has just inaugurated here in Tokyo. I was checking Verizon's website and they're still offering services that died off 20yrs ago in Japan.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Aug 2015 @ 7:08am

    If you see something, record something.

    Onward marching soldiers, into battle they go.
    Fighting for board member bonuses, everyone is your foe.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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