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Teresa's Tale of Two Companies

Teresa Joyce is a customer service representative from Lebanon, VA, who worked for AT&T Wireless before Cingular Wireless acquired her company.  She knows firsthand what the difference is between her employers and respecting workers' rights to form unions.

teresa125x135.jpgAs a longtime employee of AT&T Wireless, Teresa Joyce objected to the unfair conditions she experienced at the company.  "Our raises were determined by favoritism," she explained, "they were seldom a reflection of our work."  Teresa was also frustrated from having no voice on the job.

Teresa and her coworkers wanted to change their working conditions and make the company more accountable for the decisions that impact its employees.  Together they pursued union representation with the Communications Workers of America (CWA), but they soon found out how hard it can be for workers to do just that.

Encountering myths, lies, threats, and resistance

"As employees we should be devoting more time to the main issue involved with our jobs, which is providing excellent customer service, not worrying about being terminated for participation in union activities." - Teresa Joyce

Word of their undertaking spread rapidly through the company, with rumors quickly reaching management.  "We were told numerous lies about the negative effects of belonging to the union," Teresa recalled.  She was also given warnings about what would happen if employees organized.  This is a frequently-used, manipulative tactic recommended by union avoidance consultants, as it is entirely permissible under labor law.  For instance, AT&T Wireless management representatives claimed if employees organized, they would not be permitted to speak directly to supervisors, and that union dues would be so enormous that workers might actually need two jobs.  She also heard 'predictions' that by forming a union the company might have to leave town, causing employees to lose their jobs. 

Despite the misinformation, negative campaigning, and stiff resistance from their employer, AT&T Wireless workers continued their campaign for union representation. Yet their resolve was pushed to the limits.  "Management wanted to deny my fellow workers an opportunity to make an informed, educated decision on whether or not to belong to a union," Teresa explained.  The anti-union tactics employed by AT&T eventually grew intimidating to Teresa. "The most frightening aspect," Teresa said, "was to watch as one by one the outspoken 'troublemakers' were led out the door for poor performance, bad attitudes, and various other charges." 

New management, new beginnings

Take Action:

Cingular Wireless takes a different stand on workers' rights - unlike its competitors, Cingular does not interfere with the rights of its employees to choose whether or not they want to form a union.

Thank Cingular for raising the bar for workers' rights!

The hostile work environment improved dramatically after Cingular Wireless acquired AT&T Wireless.

Teresa had the opportunity to participate in a conference call for employees of both companies to ask questions about the pending merger.  "When the CEO of Cingular responded to a question about unions…I could barely contain my composure," she recalled. "I heard him say that Cingular has a great relationship with CWA and that each call center would be able to choose whether or not it wanted union representation.  I wanted to shout my joy for all the management to hear.  We had hope!"

It soon became clear to Teresa and others that the company wasn't all talk; Cingular truly respected workers' decisions about joining a union.  "After the merger with Cingular, we were able to speak openly, hand out literature to fellow workers and eventually had access to our workplace to educate employees about the union," said Teresa.

A voice on the job at last

Because of her new employer's stance, Teresa and her coworkers did get their union.  She's one of nearly 40,000 Cingular technicians, customer service representatives, and retail sales workers represented by CWA.  Cingular employees represented by CWA now have contracts providing job security, regular wage increases, good benefits, and what Teresa always wanted: a voice on the job.

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Last Updated ( October 21, 2007 )