Wednesday, August 20, 2014

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Who is TWA?

TWA = Temporary Workers of America
A collective bargaining unit formed to represent Lionbridge Tier One (T1) employees. 
Philippe Boucher (who signed the petition form so his name is known by Lionbridge since August 5) and Eric Osnes (writing this FAQ) have been particularly active but each of the co-workers who signed the 'authorization cards', representing more than 30%  of T1s (at least 12 people) is a fundamental part of TWA. You are welcome at any time to join us and volunteer.

Why Has It Been Formed?

Lionbridge T1 employees are considered by Lionbridge as Temporary Full-Time Employees. (Refer to your employment documents.) Although being “full-time employees” we are denied the following:
-       Periodic raises
-       Paid time off (vacation)
-       Paid sick leave
-       Health insurance
-       Advancement opportunities within the company
We are however offered participation in the company’s 401(K) plan, but note that they start you off with automatic deductions whether you agree to it or not. You must actively go to the Fidelity website to stop those deductions which can add a significant amount of money to your take-home pay.

It is known that a number of T1’s have gone to Brent Willems to negotiate their own compensation packages. Some have succeeded; others have not and been laid off. 

TWA was formed to act as a collective bargaining unit with Lionbridge to negotiate getting the benefits we deserve.

Why Haven’t I Heard About TWA Before The Lionbridge Meeting?

We had to be secretive about getting people to sign the union cards. In that instance there was a possibility that we would be retaliated against by Lionbridge (that's what happened to Marilyse) and we also did not want to tip our hand. We were very careful about who we spoke to based on what we perceived the individuals response would be. It was clear that some people would be adamantly opposed to the idea while others readily embraced it. We needed 30% of the T1s to sign up and we succeeded in reaching that number even though it took several months to accomplish.

Can I be fired by Lionbrige for participating in TWA?

No. This would be considered retaliation and is strictly illegal under Federal Law, the NLRB, and in direct conflict with Microsoft’s Supplier Code of Conduct (which applies to Lionbridge). Were Lionbridge do this they would face severe legal penalties and public relations nightmare.

Will This Affect Lionbridge’s Ability To Continue Work For Microsoft?

There is strong evidence that Microsoft will not interfere and that they will embrace this change if they really stand by their Human Rights commitment.

“As a signatory to the UN Global Compact, Microsoft is committed to respecting all of the human rights described in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; and the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.

We recognize that as a leading technology provider with global operations, our business can help to promote – or be used to impede – human rights. The stakes grow higher every year as information and communications technologies (ICT) become ever more important in how people work, learn and interact with one another.

We recognize the important responsibility we have to respect human rights and we aim to bring the power of technology to bear to promote respect for human rights throughout the world.”

From the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

“Article 23
(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

Article 24
Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.”

We encourage you to read the other declarations that Microsoft is a signatory to and has committed to.

An important note: you will not find any such commitment publicly posted on the Lionbridge website.

Any significant interference by Microsoft could be interpreted as a sign they are a 'joint-employer', something they are especially trying to avoid since the Vizcaino class action.

What Is Lionbridge’s Responsibility To Microsoft?

From the Microsoft Supplier Code of Conduct:

“Through the Standards of Business Conduct, Microsoft has established company standards that include ethical business practices and regulatory compliance. These standards apply to all Microsoft employees, directors, and officers. Similarly, Microsoft expects its suppliers to embrace this commitment to integrity by complying with and training its employees on the Microsoft Supplier Code of Conduct.”

Microsoft expects its Suppliers to share its commitment to human rights and equal opportunity in the workplace. All Microsoft Suppliers must conduct their employment practices in full compliance with all applicable laws and regulations, and must, without limitation:

Respect workers’ rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining in accordance with legal requirements. As noted above, we require that Suppliers not engage in discrimination in hiring, compensation, access to training, promotion, termination, and/or retirement based on union membership.”

Lionbridge Said That A Union Would Complicate The Relationship Between Employees And Management. Is This True?

It is only true if that is how Lionbridge decides to work with us. More often than not Unions work side by side with management to ensure the welfare and success of the company while also protecting the employees from exploitation by the company. This is more the rule than the exception.

And remember, YOU are the union. So they are working with YOU, not some evil, nebulous organization. And wouldn’t you prefer to have an influence on things that affect you directly at work?

Lionbridge Has Said That There Will Be Strikes And That Would Mean No Paychecks Or Benefits. Is This True?

This is a blatant scare tactic being used by Lionbridge. Also, notice that they said benefits. Do you get benefits now?

Strikes only occur when things go badly between management and the union. Furthermore, they only occur IF THE MEMBERSHIP VOTES FOR A STRIKE. That means YOU. Union officials have no say whether or not to call a strike. Such an action must be approved by the membership.

Also, many critical unions have “no strike” clauses in the contracts they negotiate with their companies.

So no, it is highly unlikely that a strike would ever occur and it would require YOU to authorize one.

Why Don’t We Go To Lionbridge And Negotiate For Benefits Without Forming A Union?

We have heard this question quite a lot. The truth of the matter is that it will not work. There is nothing binding in whatever concessions we were to receive whereas with the union the contract is binding on all parties and subject to NLRB enforcement.

As mentioned before, it is known that individuals have gone to Brent Willems on their own to make their own deals. There is nothing preventing you from doing this but the results are mixed. Some people have successfully obtained benefits and pay increases FOR DOING THE SAME WORK YOU DO. Others have subsequently been fired. You take your chances.

More to the point, if you are successful, do you think it is fair that you should get those extras when your colleagues don’t?

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