The Republican-controlled FCC voted last week to adopt a dangerous anti-worker "One Touch, Make Ready" (OTMR) policy that sends CWA members' work – done by skilled employees who know the equipment and have extensive training – to unskilled, untrained, low-wage contractors. The Commission ignored hundreds of comments submitted by workers urging the the FCC to protect public and worker safety and protect good jobs.
The OTMR policy allows companies that want to add equipment to a utility pole to move existing equipment. A local OTMR ordinance in Louisville, Ky., has been disastrous, with dangerous mistakes made by contractors. Pole attachment work is complex, and if done incorrectly, can cause electrocution or poles to fall.
In addition to the serious safety risks, the policy also invalidates sections of private contracts negotiated by CWA and its members' employers, affecting thousands of workers.
"It's incredibly disappointing that the FCC approved this harmful anti-worker OTMR policy that risks public and worker safety, especially after so many skilled CWA workers warned them about the consequences," said CWA District 3 Vice President Richard Honeycutt. "This policy gives our work – work with good, family-supporting wages and benefits – to unskilled, untrained, low-wage contractors. CWA members will keep fighting to enforce our right to the work guaranteed to us by contract against any attempts to take it away from us."
More than 1,300 CWA members submitted comments to the FCC raising concerns about the proposal.
Steven in Brandenburg, Ky., revealed a firsthand account from a location where the OTMR policy has already been put into place. "I am a facility technician for AT&T. Our metro council in Louisville has passed an OTMR ordinance locally," he wrote. "I have already seen questionable and unsafe attachments to our poles. I work on these lines every day. Imagine putting a ladder up 20 feet in the air on a wire that has not been secured properly. It can only end badly. Our job is dangerous enough without adding other untrained, unregulated hands to the equation."