CWA Union Petitions Governor for Oversight of Telecom Provider Zirrus
Yadkinville, N.C.: The Communications Workers of America (CWA) union has petitioned Governor Roy Cooper to ensure that unlawful anti-union activities by the Yadkin Valley telecommunications provider, Zirrus, have not put the state’s broadband grant at greater risk of scrutiny by the federal government.
CWA has alleged that Zirrus is engaging in anti-union activities which violate workers’ rights under the National Labor Relations Act. An unfair labor practice charge filed by CWA is under investigation by Region 10 of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). CWA alleges that after a supermajority of eligible workers petitioned for union recognition last month, Zirrus management has spied on employees engaged in organizing, interrogated employees about their organizing activities, and threatened to eliminate jobs if its workers organize. Management has now fired a union activist the day after he spoke up at a company meeting.
Zirrus’s conduct may make North Carolina’s broadband grants vulnerable to scrutiny by the federal government. That’s because Zirrus was a big winner in a recent round of North Carolina broadband grants announced in August 2022, taking home awards for build-out in four counties (Davie, Iredell, Rowan and Yadkin). The awards were made under the Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) Program, which is funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
Under ARPA regulations, the state has reporting obligations to certify that large projects are either subject to a project labor agreement or provide a workforce continuity plan detailing how the recipient will minimize the risks of labor disputes and disruptions that would jeopardize timelines and cost-effectiveness of the project.
“At a time when North Carolinians are relying on the rapid buildout of high speed internet, the unlawful conduct by Zirrus management could subject North Carolina to additional scrutiny by the federal government," said Richard Honeycutt, CWA District 3 Vice President. “North Carolinian businesses and families deserve better for their tax dollars. It is time for Zirrus to end their unlawful interference with the right of hardworking people to join a union freely.”
The letter was hand-delivered to Governor Cooper on September 7.