IMPORTANT INFORMATION

AT&T’s Use of Authorized Dealers Raises Concerns for Workers and Customers

By DANIEL MOORE

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote about how AT&T’s use of third-party dealers is harming workers and lowering customer service quality for consumers. Some highlights of the article:

AT&T and Verizon, along with rivals Sprint and T-Mobile, have increased their sales in recent years by appointing third-party dealers to open new retail locations selling their cell phones and other products.

In the case of telecom companies, the system is confusing some customers and drawing barbs from unions who see authorized retailers as rogue entities with little accountability for customer service and worker standards.

Because of different sales systems, it is possible that a phone purchased at an authorized retailer can not be returned to a corporate store or another authorized retailer. But because the stores are often set up to look similar, some customers don’t know they are talking to another company’s employee.

For the union representing AT&T workers, the debate — which has gone on for years — gets a little more heated during contract negotiations like the ones going on now. The Communication Workers of America is bargaining for a new contract on behalf of 21,000 AT&T wireless employees, who see authorized retailers as an existential threat to their jobs in corporate stores.

A few weeks ago, the union released a report and set up a “consumer alert” website highlighting the issue of authorized retailers offering different levels of service.

In a poll of its members who work at corporate stores and call centers, 76 percent reported that customers came to them with “problems caused by third-party stores multiple times per week.” In addition, 83 percent responded that third-party stores are referring their customers to corporate-owned stores when a service issue arises.

“There’s no standardized training method, there’s no accountability from the AT&T side,” said James Stiffey, a retail sales consultant for AT&T for six years who works in the Cranberry corporate store. He said he sees several customers a week who are upset or confused at the nearby Wexford store, operated by an authorized retailer.

Read the full piece here.


AT&T Benefits Labor Support – HR Labor Notice

AT&T Benefits Labor Support for NIC Members only…
July 27, 2017
Subject: ADP changing to Spending Accounts by WageWorks 
Audience: Labor Relations: All Regions
Purpose: As was previously announced, ADP, AT&T’s Flexible Spending Account (FSA – both health care and dependent care FSA) and Health Reimbursement Account (HRA – for select groups only), Benefit Administrator, is now Spending Accounts by WageWorks. As a result, beginning around August 21, reimbursement checks will be issued by WageWorks and not ADP. Impacted participants will receive notifications over the coming weeks, with some communications beginning on July 26. This does not impact HRAs provided to Medicare Eligible retirees in the Aon Hewitt Exchange.
Why/Rationale: WageWorks has purchased Spending Accounts services from ADP.
Details: Claims Payment Freeze Period
• Temporary freeze of claims payments from August 14 – 18.
• Reimbursements for claims submitted during this time will be issued on August 21.
• All FSA/HRA participants will receive notifications via email on July 26 and August 8 to make them aware of the payment freeze. (See participant notification below – page 3 and 4 of pdf). Voiding and Reissuing of Uncashed Checks
• Uncashed checks issued by ADP will be voided and reissued by WageWorks. Timing is
dependent on when the payment was issued.
• Targeted communications will be sent to impacted participants

o Checks issued by ADP prior to May 31 will be voided on August 7 and reissued by
WageWorks on August 28. Impacted participants will receive an email notification
around July 26 encouraging them to cash their checks prior to August 6. (See
participant notification below – page 1 of pdf).
o Checks issued by ADP between June 1 and August 11 will be voided on September 20 and reissued on September 27. Impacted participants will receive an email on August
21.

During this time period the banner on the ADP website will also reinforce these upcoming changes and action items. The website URL for participant access will change around October 20. An email will be sent prior to the change informing participants how they will access their accounts.
This is informational only.

Participant Uncashed Check and Direct Deposit  – Wave 1
(Sent under dual ADP and WageWorks logo)
SUBJECT LINE: Action Required: Please Deposit Outstanding Reimbursement Checks from ADP by August 6
Dear Participant,
As you may be aware, WageWorks, Inc. acquired ADP, LLC’s Consumer Health and Spending Accounts (CHSA) business last November. As a result, beginning August 28, 2017, you will receive reimbursement checks from WageWorks rather than ADP.
As of mid-July, our records indicate you currently have one or more uncashed check(s) from ADP that were issued before May 31, 2017. Please cash any outstanding checks as soon as possible and no later than August 6, 2017. On August 7, 2017, any ADP issued outstanding checks will be voided, and payment will be reissued by WageWorks on or around August 28, 2017. To report a lost check, please contact the Participant Solution Center by August 6, 2017 to have it reissued. To ensure fast and easy reimbursements in the future, we encourage you to enroll in our direct deposit payment option. Simply login to your spending account, select My Account, and select Direct Deposit to enter your banking information. Then, just save your changes. It’s that simple! We appreciate your prompt attention to this matter and appreciate this opportunity to serve you.
Sincerely,
The WageWorks team

Participant Uncashed Check and Direct Deposit – Wave 2
(Sent under dual ADP and WageWorks logo)
SUBJECT LINE: Action Required: Please Deposit Outstanding Reimbursement Checks from ADP by September 19 

Dear Participant,
As you may be aware, WageWorks, Inc. acquired ADP, LLC’s Consumer Health and Spending Accounts (CHSA) business last November. As a result, any claims paid after August 11, 2017, have been reimbursed by WageWorks rather than ADP. As of mid-September, our records indicate you currently have one or more uncashed check(s) from ADP that was issued before August 11, 2017. Please cash any outstanding checks from ADP as soon as possible and no later than September 19, 2017. On September 20, 2017, any outstanding checks issued from ADP will be voided, and payment will be reissued from WageWorks on or around September 27, 2017. Your Payment Options To ensure fast, easy reimbursements in the future, we encourage you to enroll in our direct deposit payment option. Simply login to your spending account, select My Account, and select Direct Deposit to enter your banking information. Then, just save your changes. It’s that simple!
We appreciate your prompt attention to this matter and appreciate this opportunity to serve you.
Sincerely,
The WageWorks team

Participant Claims Freeze Notification 
(Sent under dual ADP and WageWorks logo)
SUBJECT LINE: Notice Regarding a CHSA Claims Payment Freeze August 14
Dear Participant,
As you may be aware, WageWorks, Inc. acquired ADP, LLC’s Consumer Health and Spending Accounts (CHSA) business last November. As a result, beginning August 21, 2017, you will receive reimbursement checks from WageWorks rather than ADP.
In order to accommodate the transition from the ADP bank to WageWorks, a brief freeze in claims payments will be in effect from August 14-18, 2017. During this time, you may continue to submit claims, but payments will not be issued until August, 21, 2017. Card transactions will not be impacted during this period, and you may continue to use your debit card as usual*. If you have incurred claims that have not been submitted, please login to your spending account at the earliest convenience to submit them prior to the payment freeze. We appreciate your patience during this important transition and appreciate this opportunity to serve you.
Sincerely,
The WageWorks team

* For HSAs, the card can only be used up to the balance available as of the start of the payment freeze on August 14.
Participant Claims Freeze Reminder 
(Sent under dual ADP and WageWorks logo)
SUBJECT LINE: URGENT Notice Regarding CHSA Claims Payment Freeze August 14
Dear Participant,
As you may be aware, WageWorks, Inc. acquired ADP, LLC’s Consumer Health and Spending Accounts (CHSA) business last November. As a result, beginning August 21, 2017, you will receive reimbursement checks from WageWorks rather than ADP.
In order to accommodate the transition from the ADP bank to WageWorks, a brief freeze in claims payments will be in effect from August 14-18, 2017. During this time, you may continue to submit claims, but payments will not be issued until August, 21, 2017. Card transactions will not be impacted during this period, and you may continue to use your debit card as usual*.
If you have incurred claims that have not been submitted, please login to your spending account at the earliest convenience to submit them prior to the payment freeze.
We appreciate your patience during this important transition and appreciate this opportunity to serve you.
Sincerely,
The WageWorks team
* For HSAs, the card can only be used up to the balance available as of the start of the payment freeze on August 14

 

July 27, 2017
Subject: Healthcare Price Transparency Tool as part of the Your Health Matters Program for NIC Members.

Audience: Labor Relations: Midwest CWA, Legacy T CWA, Mobility CWA Black – District 3, Mobility CWA Orange – District 1, 2-13, 4, 7, 9, Mobility CWA Purple – District 6, Southeast CWA, West IBEW – Local 1269, and National Internet Contract.
The Healthcare Price Transparency Tool provided by Castlight is not available in Puerto Rico, Guam or Virgin Islands.

Purpose: To communicate the availability of a Healthcare Price Transparency Tool provided by Castlight, which is accessible under the Your Health Matters Program.

Why/Rationale: Beginning as soon as administratively feasible on or after January 1, 2018, bargained employees enrolled in an AT&T self-insured medical program option will have access to the HealthCare Price Transparency Tool provided by Castlight.

Details: As part of the Your Health Matters Program, the Castlight Healthcare Price Transparency Tool allows participants to proactively plan healthcare decisions by comparing network providers and facilities for medical, pharmacy and dental services by cost, quality and location. In addition, participants can easily access information on past services they’ve received to understand what they have paid and why, as well as, receive personalized savings recommendations based on their past care. Bargained wmployees enrolled in an AT&T self-insured medical program option and their eligible adult dependents can access the web tool or download the app. Eligible employees will receive information regarding the Healthcare Price Transparency Tool once the tools are functional in early 2018. The Company retains the unilateral right to change, modify, amend or discontinue the Your Health Matters Program and or its component parts, including the Healthcare Price Transparency Tool.

The is informational only – no action required.


Verizon Refuses to Fix Customer Lines, Forcing Consumers to Take Fiber or Lose Service

A complaint filed this week at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) charges Verizon Communications with systematically deceiving customers, refusing to fix the phone lines of customers on its traditional copper network, and forcing them to switch to the company’s fiber network or lose all service. This practice is driven by an internal Verizon policy called “Fiber Is the Only Fix,” according to the complaint, which was filed by public-interest groups, including CWA, Common Cause and Public Knowledge.

This is the first complaint alleging violation of the agency’s copper retirement rules, which took effect on March 24, 2016. It charges that “Fiber Is the Only Fix” is an institutionalized policy designed to deceive customers and constitutes “unjust and unreasonable practices” that violate federal law. The complaint also charges that Verizon has been giving retail customers as little as 15-days notice before ending their copper service, when FCC rules say they must be given at least 90 days notice.

“By instituting this reprehensible policy to deceive customers, Verizon executives proved that only profits – not customer service – motivates this company,” said CWA President Chris Shelton. “Verizon executives violated the law and are forcing our members to join in a program they strongly object to. With this complaint filed today at the FCC, we are standing up for our customers, just as we are standing up for them every day on picket lines from Massachusetts to Virginia.”

Shelton added, “CWA fully supports the conversion from copper to fiber, but we believe that consumers should be able to make this choice without pressure, threats and deception from Verizon.”

The FCC complaint covers seven states – Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

ENEWSLETTER ISSUE:


Union membership up in the South

Not just North Carolina

When the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its annual data on unions and unionization rates – the percentage of union members relative to the workforce – North Carolina wasn’t the only southern state to see an increase last year over 2014, reports Chris Kromm with the Institute for Southern Studies:

Over the last year, the share of U.S. workers belonging to unions held steady at 11.1 percent, according to data released last week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But the new BLS figures also show unions made surprising gains in a region where labor faces some of its biggest legal and political obstacles to organizing: the U.S. South. In the 13 Southern states*, the number of workers belonging to unions grew from 202 million in 2014, or 5.2 percent of the workforce, to 2.4 million by the end of 2015, or 5.5 percent of Southern Workers.

Chart showing unionization rates in the South (source)

Union leaders feel the urgency to continue labor’s momentum in the South, however modest, but they also recognize that defending recent gains — much less growing in the often union-hostile climate in Southern states — will require a long-term commitment to Southern organizing.

Read more: Union membership creeps upward in the South


Wage theft in North Carolina

After seeing Durham Marriott workers protesting having their wages stolen, a Duke University student in the Center for Documentary Studies produced this video about it.


 Health and Safety …

ChemHat, a “must read” for CWA occupational safety and health activists and leaders, is a joint production of the Blue-Green Alliance, CWA, and the United Steelworkers. This excellent presentation demystifies technical information regarding chemical occupational and environmental hazards as well as the need to move towards the use of safer, alternative products. Download the presentation. Visit www.ChemHAT.org. The CWA Occupational Safety and Health Department has as its primary responsibility the

The CWA Occupational Safety and Health Department has as its primary responsibility the elimination/minimization of member exposure to hazardous working conditions and potentially related injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. The Department’s primary areas of activity include:

  • Promoting the awareness of occupational and environmental safety and health issues and concerns,
  • Training CWA members in occupational safety and health recognition and control
  • Developing an ongoing comprehensive workplace safety and health program.

The primary work functions of the department include:

  • The identification of member workplace safety and health needs
  • The development and use of information and communication tools including the CWA Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Webpage
  • The development and dissemination of educational and training materials that target the elimination/minimization of hazardous working conditions experienced by CWA members
  • The provision of technical assistance that addresses specific member workplace safety and health hazards
  • Conducting and sponsoring both generalized and specialized occupational safety and health education and training classes/programs for CWA leaders and occupational safety and health activists
  • Conducting and sponsoring survey and scientific research specific to the workplace safety and health hazards encountered by the Union’s members.

These activities are achieved through the development and use of a coordinated approach within CWA involving headquarters personnel as well as national, district, and local officers, leaders, and occupational safety and health activists.

Keep up with OSH Activism with the CWA Health & Safety blog: CWA Health & Safety Activists/Trainers


Read more at: http://www.cwa-union.org/issues/entry/c/health-and-safety

Leave a Reply