On March 31, we arrived in Boise, Idaho to help out with a campaign that involved unionizing an AT&T/DirecTV call center.
With the company-wide neutrality agreement in place, the 688 employees at the call center had the option of choosing Communication Workers of America(CWA) or the IBEW as their union. The first union to get more than 50% of the workers to sign up would be recognized by AT&T as the call center’s chosen union.
Each union has 60 days to reach their goal, with their clock beginning on the day they received their first signed card. IBEW local 291 received its first signed card on March 19, starting the 60-day clock scheduled to end on May 17.
Since Idaho is a “Right to Work” state, not a lot of people were aware that union membership was an option for them. One of the biggest challenges we faced was educating people on what a union was and why having one would be so beneficial to them in their place of work. Additionally, we found that the employees were afraid to talk to us because they felt their jobs would be on the line should they even entertain the idea of joining a union.
The next big challenge we faced involved helping the employees decide which union would best represent them. But during our time there there, we saw the momentum begin to build, and the employees at the center began to open up to us a little more, asking more questions and becoming more supportive of the IBEW.
When we returned home, neither union had reached its goal yet, however, each day, our union gained more and more support from employees. Our Volunteer Organizing Committee (VOC) members are working hard on getting signatures and directing employees to contact us if they have in-depth questions. We remain hopeful that soon, the IBEW will be the union to represent the call center for AT&T/DirecTV in Boise, Idaho.
Candice Brace is an Organizing Steward and Customer Service Rep at the PG&E Sacramento Call Center, and Ashley Nelson is an Organizing Steward and Customer Service Rep at the PG&E Fresno Call Center.