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Verizon SpiOS™: New App Allows Non-Union Workers to Report Union Counterparts to Security

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Last week, 38,000 Communicatons Workers of America (CWA) and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) members decided to begin working without a contract at Verizon while negotiations continue, rather than striking. For their gracious behavior, Verizon has released a new smartphone app that allows non-union workers to record and report “incidents” to management when union workers are involved.

Ah, motivation.

Training 15,000 replacement workers in the event of a strike, before one was even authorized, was Verizon slap in the face number one.  But this app release is an even more cruel sign that Verizon is trying to break the union and wiggle its way out of fiscal and social responsibility.  Considering the app is designed to report “bad behavior” related to work stoppages that are not occuring yet, it is difficult to believe Verizon wants to avoid a strike.  The tool allows users to geotag photos and document their time and location. Incident reports from the app are forwarded to Verizon corporate security.

Amy Seifer, Verizon associate general counsel for labor and employment, told RCR Wireless News that the app is not for intimidating union workers:

“The app serves three primary purposes: the first is a means for our management employees to report or document an unsafe situation, unlawful act, or violation of our code of conduct, and it will also be used by managers who have been assigned to these union positions for the duration of the strike to ask questions about installations or repairs they are handling. It also provides a means for our employees to submit suggestions on process improvements.”

Seifer went on to argue that the app is actually meant to make replacement workers’ jobs easier and safer.  She described the process that follows reports of vandalism and harassment associated with a potential strike:

“If we get reports of misconduct, our corporate security office will do a thorough investigation then determine a course of action whether that’s suspension, termination or no action at all will be based on the outcome of the investigation.”

Verizon spokesperson Raymond McConville went on to add:

“We believe strongly that this is not an invasion of privacy.  This is completely lawful and necessary to ensure that our employees are safe.

The employees he is referring to, of course, are not even on the job yet.

Speaking to Mother Jones, Bob Master, Vice President of CWA District 1, called the app “arrogant and obnoxious.”

The preposterousness of the app is not lost on Tech Dirt, which notes that Verizon’s own code of conduct prohibits the recording of employees “without the consent of both parties.” The app creates a scenario in which union workers may be recorded and reported, but union workers cannot do the same to their non-union counterparts:

In the age of everyone recording everyone else, it’s not too surprising that Verizon wants to keep a closer eye on union workers. But curiously Verizon’s interpretation of what can and can’t be recorded is, you’ll be shocked to learn, not exactly equitable. According to Verizon’s worker code of conduct (pdf), these union workers being recorded technically can’t record Verizon or these other non-unionized employees:

“1.8.2 Use of Recording Devices

In many jurisdictions, use of recording devices without the consent of both parties is unlawful. Unless you are participating in an approved observation program or you have obtained prior approval from Security or the Legal Department, you may not record, photograph, or videotape another employee while the employee is at work or engaged in business activities or access another employee’s systems, records or equipment without that employee’s knowledge and approval. In addition, unless you receive prior approval from the Legal Department, you may never record, photograph or videotape any customer, business provider or competitor without that person’s knowledge and approval.”

For up-to-date worker perspectives on Verizon contract negotiations, follow the #StandUp2VZ hashtag on Twitter.


2 Comments on “Verizon SpiOS™: New App Allows Non-Union Workers to Report Union Counterparts to Security”

  1. It would be nice if this app was available for all Verizon employees. Considering unsafe conditions are always present. Union workers could also use it to improve processes. It’s a shame what this company has become.

  2. If a union employee photos other workers and is disciplined, presumably the CBA includes a grievance procedure with an arbitration clause. Verizon is likely to lose the arbitration for discriminating against union employees when non-union employees are permitted to photo other workers.

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