In June 2008, employees of DirecTV's satellite dish installer DirecTECH (name changed to Multiband NE) in Massachusetts, voted to be represented by Local 103 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. During the organizing drive and then after the election victory, pro-union workers were the targets of concerted activity, using every dirty trick from the union busters handbook of Jackson Lewis.
IBEW Local 103 members take their
fight to DirecTV's annual meeting
After the election victory, management immediately signaled its intention to resist good-faith bargaining for a first contract by making it clear to union leaders that they would have to deal directly with Jackson Lewis lawyers. Local 103 representative and organizer, Bill Corley, in response commented, "When the chickens obtain a union contract with Colonel Sanders — that's when Jackson Lewis would be willing to engage in a fair bargaining process."
To help the union put together a campaign to secure a decent contract, Local 103 brought in Corporate Campaign, Inc. CCI provided strategic research, created the Campaign to Stop Satellite Sweatshops with hard-hitting literature, protest signs and a special website.
When anyone criticizes the working conditions or treatment of the people who install and service DirecTV's equipment, the company is quick to point out that, "technically," the installers are not employees of DirecTV. Instead, DirecTV claims, they are employees of legally separate companies like DirecTECH (or Multiband NE) that DirecTV contracts with to install and service its equipment.
— Download Poster —
However, when a customer signs up with DirecTV and the installers show up at the door to install or service DirecTV's equipment, they are wearing DirecTV shirts and DirecTV hats, and they drive trucks with the DirecTV logo on them. So, if one didn't know about all the legalistic formalities behind this arrangement, he/she would have every reason to believe that they are DirecTV employees. In fact, that's probably exactly what they'd like you to believe.
But does it really matter who some lawyer says their "employer" is? Even if they are technically employed by "contractors," DirecTV has made a choice to do business with those contractors. And by choosing those contractors, DirecTV provides them with an enormous amount of business. Under these circumstances, DirecTV has the power to influence and even dictate how its contractors treat their employees.
For that reason, CCI organized an IBEW Local 103 presence inside the annual meeting of DirecTV. Bill Corley led a busload of union members from Dorchester, Massachusetts to New York City, to attend and demonstrate outside the meeting in midtown. Inside the meeting, a number of union members and CCI staff raised issues and later created a dialogue with the company's top executives. This put DirecTV on notice that they couldn't hide behind the false notion that they were an innocent party in the bad treatment of technicians who install and repair their satellite dishes.
In reaching Local 103's goal to gain justice for the technicians, its campaign also raised sensitive issues highlighting consumer rip-offs.
A determined Local 103, against great odds, through collective bargaining and an aggressive campaign, obtained their first contract and stopped the horrible and demeaning working conditions in what the Campaign aptly described as satellite sweatshops.