GTE workers demand contract

Charlotte Kates ckates at
Fri May 31 18:03:25 MDT 1996

>**GTE workers demand contract**
>(Reprinted from the June 1, 1996 issue of the People's
>Weekly World. May be reprinted or reposted with PWW credit.
>For subscription information see below)
>By John Pappademos
>WENTZVILLE, MO - Some 15,000 GTE workers in Alabama,
>California, Missouri, North Carolina, and Wisconsin have
>served notice on the telecommunications giant that they
>intend to strike if necessary to obtain a contract.
>According to Sandy Grogan, president of Communications
>Workers of America (CWA) Local 6301, unions in another four
>or five states may soon reach the same point in their
>CWA staff representative Philip Ferill said the contract
>covering workers in Missouri expired March 2, and that since
>then union members have been working without a contract. The
>almost 1,200 members of Local 6301 are demanding better
>working conditions, an end to contracting out jobs formerly
>done by in-plant union members, and a wage increase.
>To underscore their determination, angry unionists marched
>to GTE headquarters in Wentz-ville on May 21. As they
>chanted "GTE See Us, GTE Hear Us, Contract Now," truck
>drivers passing by on busy Interstate 70 honked their horns
>in support. Barbara Alderman, the local's vice-president for
>operator services, told the World that working conditions
>have deteriorated to the point where operators have had to
>work 12-hour days - forced overtime euphemistically called
>"scheduled overtime."
>Supervisors have also subjected operators to physical abuse
>by pushing and shoving - sarcastically dubbed "hands-on
>management" by the workers. The company is trying to
>eliminate seniority rights for operators and to limit wage
>increases to senior operators.
>Gene Whitfield, a cable splicer who works in the field and
>is another Local 6301. vice president, said GTE has not
>hired a splicer for six years and, instead, is contracting
>the work out to non-union companies. The situation is so bad
>in Branson, Mo. that there are now two outside contractors
>for every union GTE worker inside.
>Some of the workers at the march were carrying "telephones"
>they had constructed of two tin cans connected by string to
>illustrate the poor service that GTE customers are getting
>as a result of company cost-cutting.
>GTE is the biggest local telephone service company in the US
>and the world's fourth largest telecommunications
>corporation. In 1995 it had operations in 33 states, with
>investments in telephone companies in Argentina, Canada, the
>Dominican Republic and Venezuela. CEO Charles R. Lee made
>almost $2 million in salary in 1995. In 1993, GTE had almost
>$23 billion in revenues.
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    Charlotte L. Kates     ckates at        Collingswood, NJ

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