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Friday, April 28, 2017

That is the Question

To strike or not to strike...

Oh, if my union strikes, I will strike with them.

But I don't want to.

Look, AT&T was very good to me during Laston's last illness and in the aftermath. I don't know how much of that was the local management in my call center and how much was corporate. But they were great within the terms of the contract, although more paid bereavement leave would have been really nice; I had already used up all my other paid time off on chemotherapy and hospital visits and the like.

I love the work and the people.

And I am too old - and have been in various corners of Corporate America for too long - to be anything but cynical about getting what we want (or at least everything we want) here.

Some of my colleagues and fellow union members are very unhappy with the huge pay differences between the salaries made by the likes of Randall Stephenson and your average call center tech like us. I'm really not. I honestly don't care if the CEO makes a bajillion dollars, as long as I can make enough to support me and the girls, and get us some extras now and then.

I don't expect a bajillion. Considerably more than $35k (before taxes) would be nice though. And I am totally on board with better leave policies, lower health care costs, etc. Especially the latter.

What really bothers me is the hypocrisy of it all. In the same week that we are threatening to strike, we're having mandatory trainings about how we all support each other, how the little customer is just as important as the big one.

Thing is, that as much as these trainings talk about "supporting the internal customer," AT&T as a company doesn't walk that walk. They'll hire offshore, and hey, I'm glad that the offshore hiring means I don't have to work late evenings anymore. And I'm glad some nice folks in other countries have jobs. But I'm pretty sure that's not why AT&T is doing it; they're doing it to save money. They are not supporting their internal customers, you know, the ones who are the front line with customers.

I am tired of being treated like I'm a four-year-old who can't be trusted with paid sick time. I'm just now getting to the stage where I am not in a constant state of devastated despair at the death of my husband (the waves of that are coming fewer and further between, thank you EAP from the last union contract), and I'm having to explain to my nine-year-old that if I work when my coworkers are on strike, they won't be my friends anymore.

So no, I don't want to strike. I'd rather work. But - here's the important bit - I'd rather work for someone who sees me as more than a warm body to fill that chair, who actually gives a crap about me. Jenn. My local management is pretty good about this; they know me. But corporate?

Not so much.

I had a customer just the other day - I fixed a problem another rep had caused - who said, "Well, the rep who made that mistake was in one of those call centers in India or the Philippines. I'm sure they're nice people who need jobs too, but they're messing with your customers. Don't you people have a union?"

Yes, we do.

And we're going to use it if we have to.

Whether we want to or not.