The Electrical Worker online
July 2012

MasTec Workers Call on DirecTV to
Stand up for Workers' Rights
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Pro-worker activists are calling on DirecTV chief executive Michael White to tell one of its top contractors, MasTec, to play fair with employees and recognize their right to collectively bargain.

More than 120 MasTec workers in three states are still waiting for their first contract, despite National Labor Relations Board-certified majority votes favoring a voice on the job with the IBEW.

In Duluth, Ga., MasTec workers — who install residential satellites for DirecTV — have been without a contract for more than three years, while in Durham, Conn., more than 60 employees face company stonewalling on negotiating a first agreement after voting to join Bridgeport, Conn., Local 488 in April.

Even worse, MasTec has actively punished pro-union workers — who are paid on a piecemeal basis — by outsourcing their jobs to nonunion subcontractors.

More than half of the approximately 60 technicians at MasTec's Duluth facility who originally voted for a voice on the job with the IBEW three years ago have been driven out of the workplace, while in Durham, pro-union employees have had jobs taken away and given to nonunion subcontractors.

"We had guys who went from working 12 hours days, six days a week to being lucky to get one or two job a week. You can't live on a day's work," says Local 488 Organizer Dan McInerney.

International Organizer Steve Smith says the outsourcing is part of a deliberate strategy by the company to drive out the union.

"They're trying to starve us out," he says.

Workers at MasTec's West Palm Beach, Fla., facility are still without a first contract, despite voting for the IBEW back in 2008 and successfully beating off a decertification attempt a year later. The company broke off negotiations a year ago, merging its nonunion Boca Raton facility with its West Palm Beach one and then withdrawing recognition of the unit.

Ft. Lauderdale Local 728 filed numerous unfair labor practice charges against the company, which were consolidated by the National Labor Relations Board. As of this writing, the issue is pending a decision by an administrative law judge.

Despite seeing their pay and work hours slashed, the workers continue to stick by the IBEW, said Fifth District International Representative Brian Thompson.

"It's a travesty the way they are being treated," he says. "They are good workers who just want to be treated fairly and with respect at work."

An online petition to DirecTV's White tells the CEO: "It's your responsibility to ensure that the company complies with the law and respects its employees' right to organize and collectively bargain."

CEO Jose Mas recently made an appearance on the reality show "Undercover Boss," portraying himself as a caring employer, but this isn't the first time MasTec has been accused of violating basic workers' rights. In 2007, the company was ordered to pay $12.6 million in back wages after failing to pay its workers legally mandated overtime pay.

For MasTec employee Antuan Durham, who has been working at the company's Durham facility for more than a year, employees were "sick and tired of being sick and tired."

Durham says MasTec technician pay lagged far behind those of other telecommunications workers performing similar work.

"We are working around electrical wire, going on roofs, working in tight spaces, but our paychecks don't reflect the dangerous nature of what we do," he says. "Some of our counterparts at other companies make as much as two times what we do."

Durham also says employees get no sick time.

"We have guys who can barely stand dragging themselves into work because they can't get a day off," he says.

Despite the company intimidation, interest in the IBEW among MasTec workers continues to grow, with an upcoming election at the company's facility in Scranton, Pa.