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After a short campaign, eighty-one AT&T Mobility phone store workers in eleven Vermont stores have formed a new union with Communications Workers of Amerca (CWA) Local 1400.
During the months of July and August, a majority of the workers signed representation cards seeking membership in Local 1400. Their majority was certified by the American Arbitration Association on September 21 against a list provided by AT&T management.
The entire process took place without any management interference, following an agreement between AT&T and CWA allowing employees to freely form unions using a majority sign-up process.
“As an employee of 5 years, I’m looking forward to gaining more respect on the job and for the seniority of longer-term employees,” said Josh Sausville, a retail sales consultant from Burlington.
The former Unicel workers will be dovetailed into an existing contract that already covers AT&T wireless phone workers in Maine and New Hampshire.
“Our local union encompasses all aspects of the telecom industry, both wireless and landlines,” said Darlene Stone, a Local 1400 organizer who assisted the workers in their campaign for representation. “With these new members, we are all stronger together.”
More than 40,000 AT&T Mobility wireless workers have gained a voice in their jobs through the 700,000-member Communications Workers of America.
“Contrast the simplicity and ease that AT&T Mobility workers formed a union with the intense management interference that Verizon Wireless workers have experienced,” said CWA staffer Ralph Montefusco, who also assisted the campaign. “Vermonters should seriously consider bringing their cell phone business to AT&T.”
The AT&T workers victory takes place amid the national political debate about enacting the Employee Free Choice Act. If enacted, workers at all companies could organize like those at AT&T simply by demonstrating majority support on union authorization cards.
Another 85 AT&T employees who work in Maine and New Hampshire are already united in Local 1400. CWA Local 1400 also represents more than 1,500 telecom workers throughout New England at Verizon and FairPoint.
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Rand Wilson is an organizer and chief of staff at SEIU Local 888 in Boston.