Communications

Joe Gosiger, CWA Staff  Representative
8085 E. Prentice Avenue

Workers of America

Greenwood Village, CO 80111-2745

AFL-CIO, CLC

303-770-2822-Phone
      303-793-7927-Fax

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Q-412

November 26, 2013

 

TO:

All Locals Representing Legacy Qwest Employees

FROM:

Joe Gosiger, Staff  Representative (MOSCH Chair)

SUBJECT:

CWA District 7/Century Link/Minnesota OSHA Lead Abatement Settlement Agreement

CWA District 7/Century Link/Minnesota OSHA Lead Abatement Settlement Agreement 

On Tuesday, November 18, 2013, a landmark Minnesota OSHA/CWA District 7/Century Link settlement agreement regarding work with lead cable becomes effective. 

Following an investigation by Minnesota OSHA during Winter- Spring, 2013 and the Agency’s issuance of nine citations for violations of the OSHA Lead Standard, during September, 2013, CWA, Minnesota OSHA, and Century Link agreed to a landmark lead abatement program. The lead abatement program, which brings the company into compliance with OSHA’s Lead Standard, focuses upon “Lead Sheath Cable Cleaning, Preparation for Spicing and Removal.” Specific provisions include notification and training; coverage of safe and healthful work practices and procedures; provision of appropriate engineering, administrative, and personal protective equipment to prevent/control lead exposure, medical surveillance, and personal hygiene.  

The lead abatement program will ensure CWA members/Century Link technicians who work with lead-encased cable and other lead products are provided safe and healthful working conditions. 

Subsequently, during October, 2013, CWA District 7, the Union’s Occupational Safety and Health Department, and Century-Link negotiated an agreement to expand the Minnesota OSHA settlement agreement to include District 7-wide implementation of the company’s lead abatement program - including notification, training, and medical surveillance for affected technicians. Subsequently, CWA’s Occupational Safety and Health Department and Century Link have agreed to have the lead abatement program broadened to cover all affected Century-Link technicians throughout the U.S. 

CWA looks forward to working with Company personnel in developing and implementing the Lead Abatement Program throughout District 7 as well as other U.S. Century-Link work locations.   2.

Background 

Following manhole work with a lead-encased telecommunications cable, a member of CWA Local 7201, St. Paul, Minnesota, employed as a technician by Century-Link began experiencing physical discomfort. Subsequently, he went to his doctor who diagnosed him with medical issues caused by lead exposure. This information was provided to Minnesota OSHA prompting the Agency to conduct a comprehensive investigation of working conditions at the company’s underground vault/manhole that contained the lead-encased telecommunications cable in question. The investigation, which took place from February- June, 2013, resulted in the Agency’s identification of numerous workplace hazards and its July 9 issuance of nine (9) serious citations for violation of the OSHA Lead Standard. Subsequently, Century-Link contested these citations. 

This citation was unique because the MN OSHA issued the complaint and for some reason they marked on the citation Century Link / Legacy Qwest was “non-union”. The CWA and the Company treated this citation under OSHA regulations and shared information as if the union had established “party status”. Under OSHA regulation the Union has to formally establish “party status”. After some discussion with MN OSHA, D-7 was able to establish “party status” which was critical to the favorable outcome of this citation. MN OSHA regulations require the Union to sign-off on the final settlement agreement. This requirement for the Union to sign-off on a final settlement agreement is unique to MN because most state OSHA plans and the Federal plan only requires the Union to be part of the process, but does not require the Union to sign-off on the final settlement agreement.   

It would be critical learning point that the Union staff not to assume that “party status” was established unless the union actually filed the OSHA complaints that triggered a citation. Furthermore, the Union should establish a process to centralize OSHA citations.    

On Tuesday, September 10, Minnesota OSHA hosted a conference call/meeting regarding the resolution/settlement of the nine (9) citations against Century-Link. Participating in the meeting with Minnesota OSHA personnel were representatives of Century Link’s and CWA’s Occupational Safety and Health and Legal Departments. Following the two-hour settlement meeting, representatives of Century-Link, CWA District 7, and the Union’s Occupational Safety and Health Department agreed to Minnesota OSHA’s proposed settlement agreement. The settlement agreement will include the roll-out of Century-Link’s newly updated Lead Abatement Program/adherence to the OSHA Lead Standard. 

Specific issues contained in the Agency’s citations and covered in the settlement agreement include:  

Lead Kills 

Lead is a carcinogen, reproductive hazard, and affects development of the central nervous system and causes brain disorders. CWA members employed as cable splicers, lineman, and in other outside plant technician jobs are routinely assigned to work with lead-encased telecommunications cables. Thus, it is imperative that represented employers provide affected workers with safe and healthful working conditions which comply with the Federal OSHA Lead Standard.  

Work is currently underway in the development and implementation the Lead Abatement Program and we expect to roll this out shortly. 

If you have any questions or concerns regarding this matter, please let us know.


JG:vk opeiu30, afl-cio


c:    District 7 Staff and Clerical