The way I see it, our new Frontier CEO Bernie Han is failing to protect the workers at Frontier! The safety protocols delivered by his team were inexcusable in the beginning, and now two weeks later we are still struggling to have the proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for our technician’s in the field. We are fortunate that our Chiefs, BA’s and VP’s from Local 1298 were able to assist this company in enabling many of our members to work from home. Without our experience and abilities, this company would still be fumbling around trying to figure out how to set up a work at home program.
The company further compounded issues when approached by the Union to establish home garaging. They failed to come up with a plan that did not violate Connecticut state statutes, and that is completely unacceptable! I know there are some first level managers, directors and others that are doing what they can to help the business during this crisis, however, our new CEO remains silent as we continue to work in this pandemic. I have reached out to our Governor, our federal elected leaders, and others in an effort to shine a light on the fact that Frontier workers are at risk without the proper PPE and so is every customer they come in contact with.
I was on a call yesterday with the CT AFL-CIO executive board and Senator Richard Blumenthal. Our agenda was protecting workers and families. Everyone on the call has been experiencing some sort of similar circumstance related to the lack of PPE and layoffs in record numbers. Every single worker at the grocery store, the gas station, the hardware store, you name it, the essential services that they are providing are being done without a priority on PPE. Sadly, whether it’s bus drivers, state workers in an unemployment office or the building trades who are having their jobs shut down, Americans are being put at risk by this pandemic and the way employers are responding is not acceptable. CWA Local 1298 was notified yesterday that some of our members at Dex/Thyrv Media are being laid off as well.
Each one of us has our own personal responsibility to keep ourselves safe by keeping our distance from others. For our technicians in the field, do your very best to be equipped to perform duties that may be required in a home and if you feel that you cannot, then you should not be doing that work. Over and over again we’ve instructed our members to call their supervisor if they are having issues with proper protection to work inside a customer’s house or issues with not being comfortable working in some buildings due to of the number of people located inside, or the lack of cleaning and sanitizing being done.
I have received a message from almost every business that has my email, or that I have interacted with for their services at home. Frontier has not contacted customers informing them on how they are taking precautions to protect them. Frontier is failing us as employees, and they are failing their customers and the communities we live and work in.
We are also starting to see more of our members being advised to self-quarantine by their health care provider, some are coming down with symptoms which require them to self-quarantine. Their families are now in a household self-quarantine situation. Frontier has made it difficult for our members to care for the concerns of their own safety and well-being. Frontier is not respecting our quarantine language, which is very clear in the contract. It is unconscionable that this company cannot put the safety of their employees first and is hung up on saving a nickel or a dime. I understand their concern for their financial picture, and I know it’s not going to be good going forward. In the interim, that should have no bearing on the safety of our members at CWA.
Your CWA Local 1298 Executive Board is doing everything in our power to protect our members and identify issues to escalate to state authorities. Our members who work at AT&T Wireless at AT&T East core are getting clear directive on how to handle situations in which they have become ill, need to be quarantined, or have underlying medical conditions. AT&T has issued the appropriate guidelines to protect pay and has even increased pay for employees who are working through this pandemic. Frontier has been reactionary and doing things like they always do, confused and subpar. They have shown very little concern about coming up with consistent protocols that could help put our members, their employees, at a little bit of ease knowing that if they run into an issue with their health, they don’t have to worry about the red tape that human resources is using to complicate matters.
We are also working with our CWA District 1 Vice President Dennis Trainor and have been coordinating with the New York Frontier locals to make sure that everyone in our district is being properly protected during this crisis. We need better safety protocols and a clear understanding that if you are not able to work because of self-quarantine, childcare issues, or other underlying health issues, that you have a simple path to keep yourself safe. We will continue to fight to protect our members. I am requesting that each member reach out to your elected leaders and tell them your story. We are not clearly identified as front-line workers like the heroes at the hospitals or grocery stores, but we clearly are on the front line and are very vital in keeping our communities connected for working at home, home schooling, news reports and most importantly using virtual health care services.