“Safety first” is a principle you’ll always hear on the job. And it’s true—safety can save your life, if it’s taken seriously. But if action isn’t taken, it’s just an empty phrase. When my co-workers and I took action over safety in our workplace, we were retaliated against. This triggered the most useful tool that we have as workers: a strike. A little background: 2,000 telecom workers from eight locals of the Communications Workers (CWA) at Frontier in California have been working without a contract since last September. We’re fighting for our first non-concessionary contract in 17 years! While bargaining goes on, we’re working under the terms of a contract that Verizon and CWA agreed to in 2016. (When Frontier acquired the areas of California, Texas, and Florida, it agreed to uphold the same contract.)
For the past week, roughly 2,000 telecom workers at Frontier Communications in Southern California have been out on a unfair labor practice strike over a grievance stemming from the company’s continued reliance on subcontracting at the expense of union employees’ job security. The Frontier workers, affiliated with the Communication Workers of America District 9, walked out last Friday across eight locals representing technicians, call center employees, dispatchers, clerks, mechanics, and construction workers. On Wednesday night, Aug. 23, Thomas Ham, a fiber-optic technician with Local 9588, announced on Twitter that the grievance with Frontier had been settled and workers would be reporting to work Thursday morning.
40,000 CWU members employed by both BT and Openreach will take strike action on Friday 29 July and Monday 1 August. These workers have not taken national strike action since 1987. Out members are fighting for a real pay rise, and we ask that you support on picket lines across the UK. CWU members in the telecoms industry are key workers who have delivered vital services for the country throughout the pandemic. When broadband services and support became more important than ever, it was engineers in Openreach and call center workers in BT who kept us connected to our loved ones, our communities and essential resources. Now, the cost of living crisis means they go home with less and less in their pockets every month, while BT Group continues to profit.
Washington, DC — On Friday, President Joe Biden signed an executive order calling on federal agencies, including the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission, to enact measures protecting internet users against the anti-competitive practices of large telecommunications and internet companies. In the order, Biden calls on the FCC to “restore Net Neutrality rules undone by the [Trump] administration.” In 2017, the agency under then-Chairman Ajit Pai repealed the Open Internet Order and abandoned the FCC’s jurisdiction over broadband under Title II of the Communications Act. Today’s executive order also calls on the FCC to require more transparency from broadband providers about their prices and terms of service, and to examine the impact of early termination fees and other punitive practices imposed on broadband customers.
As federal lawmakers held a hearing Thursday on broadband equity, a new report details how the internet service provider industry, through hiked prices and disappearing lower-priced offerings, is exacerbating the digital divide. Entitled Price Too High and Rising: The Facts About America's Broadband Affordability Gap, the publication (pdf) from Free Press states that "the central fact is Americans pay too much for the internet." "By the start of 2020, nearly 80 million people still did not have adequate internet at home," according to report author and Free Press research director S. Derek Turner. "Black, Latinx, and Indigenous people comprise a disproportionate number of those who are disconnected."
The rollout of fiber broadband will never make it to many communities in the US. That’s because large, national ISPs are currently laying fiber primarily focused on high-income users to the detriment of the rest of their users. The absence of regulators has created a situation where wealthy end users are getting fiber, but predominantly low-income users are not being transitioned off legacy infrastructure. The result being “digital redlining” of broadband, where wealthy broadband users are getting the benefits of cheaper and faster Internet access through fiber, and low-income broadband users are being left behind with more expensive slow access by that same carrier.
Trump-appointed FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who said Monday he will depart the commission on Jan. 20, leaves behind a controversial legacy: He’s regarded as either an exemplary change agent or an ideologue who forfeited consumer interests for commercial ones. To cable, telecommunications and consumer-electronics companies, Pai has been a model of transparency and a champion of free markets who cut away outdated regulations and laid the groundwork for the expansion of broadband to millions of Americans.