The FCC is scheduled to vote next week on a “One Touch, Make Ready” (OTMR) proposal that endangers workers and could send CWA members’ work -- done by skilled employees who know the equipment and have extensive training -- to unskilled, untrained, low-wage contractors. The proposal also invalidates sections of private contracts negotiated by CWA and its members’ employers, affecting thousands of workers.
A nationwide OTMR policy would allow companies that want to add equipment to a utility pole to move existing equipment. A local OTMR ordinance in Louisville, Kentucky 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.
CWA members are leading the campaign to stop the policy from going nationwide. Over the past few months, they have gathered more than 9,000 signatures on a petition opposing this harmful policy and enlisted support from a bipartisan group of elected officials.
CWA District 3 Vice President Richard Honeycutt delivered the petition signatures Thursday to the FCC in Washington, D.C. Honeycutt and CWA Local 3310 member Chad Melton also met with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, Commissioner Brendan Carr and staff from the offices of FCC Commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Michael O’Rielly to discuss the concerns that workers have about the proposals.
“I’m from Louisville, where OTMR is law, so I know how bad it is,” said Melton. “The FCC wants to take away our work and our jobs. The proposal would allow contractors to do work that we have fought for and won in our CWA collective bargaining agreements.”
“OTMR risks public and worker safety,” said Honeycutt. “And it gives our work – work with good, family-supporting wages and benefits – to unskilled, untrained low-wage contractors. We’ve been actively fighting OTMR policies across the south and now we’re making our voices heard at the FCC.”
More than 1,000 CWA members have submitted comments to the FCC raising concerns about the proposal.
Senator Bill Nelson and Representative Darren Soto, both of Florida, joined CWA members on a town hall call on Tuesday to discuss why they oppose the proposal.
“We know that access to rural broadband is essential. But we know we have to do this right, and OTMR is a dangerous proposition,” said Soto. “You can’t have second-rate, untrained workers working with some of the most complex communications infrastructure in our nation. And we have to honor collective bargaining agreements.”