Union Activist Group Says ADT Locked Out 19 Installers, Service Techs

Labor Notes reports ADT locked out the workers in Winston-Salem, N.C., following failed contract negotiations.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Following months of stalled negotiations, on Feb. 13 ADT locked out 19 employees in this city who are seeking their first union contract, according to Labor Notes, a media and organizing project run by union activists.

The lock out came a month after the installation specialists and service technicians had voted to remain with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 342. The 19 workers voted for representation by the IBEW in 2013. They’ve been negotiating for a first contract ever since, according to Labor Notes.

ADT tells SSI that following extensive negotiations with the union in Winston-Salem, the company did not commence the lockout lightly and still seeks to obtain a contract with the union that meets reasonable bargaining objectives for both parties, with negotiations taking place at promptly scheduled times.

“The company is not restricting its Winston-Salem employees in any way from exercising their federally protected right to choose a union to represent or bargain for them, and hopes to reach an agreement on a contract as soon as possible,” Jason Shockley, ADT’s senior director of corporate communications, tells SSI. “In the interim, the company is committed to continuing service for all customers in the Winston-Salem area using shared resources from additional ADT locations and temporary employees.”

Based in Boca Raton, Fla., ADT has more than 6 million residential and small business customers in the United States and Canada and roughly 16,000 employees. The IBEW represents about 1,000 of its employees nationwide. Others are represented by the Communication Workers or the Office and Professional Employees, according to Labor Notes.

“ADT has dragged out talks for nearly two years, using every trick in the book to prevent us from coming to an agreement,” Local 342 Business Manager Alvin Warwick told Labor Notes.

The company’s “final offer” would have slashed employee pay by up to 30%. ADT texted a notice to employees of an updated offer March 8, but with no substantial improvements, Labor Notes reported. The locked out workers voted to reject it and are reportedly mobilizing informational pickets in Florida and North Carolina.

“They don’t want to pay us a fair wage,” technician Brook Tolar said in a video released by the union. “They want us to work till you drop – no family values whatsoever.”

Prompted by ADT’s insistence on wage cuts, last October workers voted 9-9 for decertification. (A tie vote counts as a win for the company in both certification and decertification elections, according to Labor Notes.)

A clock starts ticking the day a new union is certified. One year later, if there’s no contract, a minority of workers can petition for a decertification vote.

In this case, ADT had hired a number of new employees and segregated them from the pro-union majority, then convinced enough to support a decertification effort, according to Labor Notes.

“Sophisticated employers know how to play the game,” said Lucas Aubrey, an IBEW attorney. “Companies will drag out contract talks until some workers start to dissent, then some will call for a decertification.”

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