AT&T has begun using temporary staffing agencies to literally wage war on their employees. At&t, based in Dallas, TX, and their vendor manager Kimberly Wolfram, in concert with Pinnacle Technical Resources, has allowed the creation of some very abusive employee labor practices in an attempt to drive down labor costs and maximize profit. I am sure AT&T’s board and shareholders are happy with this new approach.. That is until they get sued of course.
As many of you know by now, AT&T has gone to great lengths to maximize profit and one of the main ways the company has been working to do this is by finding inventive ways to undercut their most prized asset: Their employees. Number 1, AT&T has strategically located their corporate offices in Texas, unarguably which is the most employee hostile, union hating state in the United States. Companies strategically relocate to Texas when they are looking for ways to “legally” undercut their employees and Texas has more than obliged them the ability to do this. The South afterall is Republican dominated and that means the South has solidified itself as a place where companies are at a great advantage in employee/employer negotiations. As an employer in the South, especially Texas, the playing field is skewed. AGAINST YOU. You can be fired if your manager doesn’t like your hair. As a matter of fact, I once had a manager from AT&T tell me that.
Back to topic however, AT&T with the assistance of Kimberly Wolfram and PInnacle Technical Resources has managed to cut their labor costs for Tier II Technical Associates, based out of Dallas, TX, down from $24.00 per hour to $11.00 to $12.00 per hour. Overnight. AT&T managed to do this by employing some extremely ruthless cost cutting measures. First, AT&T has simply stopped hiring permanent, full time staff. The good, ol fashioned AT&T jobs where people could once raise families on and send kids to college are becoming a thing of the past. AT&T has cleverly devised a way to use temporary staffing/contract labor in perpetuity by hiring temp agencies, most specifically Pinnacle Technical Resources, to staff all of their Uverse Troubleshooting facilities. How AT&T and Pinnacle managed to do this, however, is troubling.
When Pinnacle Techical Resources was competing with several other temporary staffing companies for AT&T’s business they placed a high standard in the quality of their employees. You had to have technical experience and Pinnacle paid well at $17.00 per hour. This was a fair pay for this position as AT&T were paying their own people over $25.00 per hour. However, unlike an actual AT&T employee, the PInnacle Technical Resources employees were not given any health benefits of any kind. They also had no “basic” assurance of job security as they were not union so that no matter how hard they worked, how devoted they were to their job, how many hours they put in each day or the quality of work they produced they could be terminated on a whim by the sole discretion of a manager. No reasons given.
After AT&T made Pinnacle Technical Resources the sole contractor providing temporary work, AT&T also took another telling step in making sure they wouldn’t have to worry with the “dastardly” union again by making this move permanent. AT&T has partnered with PInnacle Technical Resources to have them completely manage their Tier II Technical Support Operations, even giving Pinnacle Technical Resources the ability to hire their own managers and to have their own trainers, as AT&T was flying down trainers for every hiring class they held.
The Pinnacle Trainers assured that the company would not have to even make the pretense of trying to keep employees as the trainers were regular (although Temp) 9 to 5 employees who trained a new class (even though slots were not even available) like clockwork every few weeks. When Pinnacle took over the operations, in typical temp agency fashion the pay suddenly plummeted. Pinnacle Technical Resources no longer required technical “experience”for working these advanced level troubleshooting positions. If you had a pulse you would be hired. Pinnacle started hiring teenagers and people who had no technical aptitude whatsoever quickly and putting them through the training classes which were insufficient as Pinnacle Trainers were temp, not being paid well, and did not have the same expertise or motivation as AT&T’s own trainers who had worked for the company for years and were vested with the firm. These “new” employees lacked motivation, were paid far less than AT&T’s own people at an hourly rate of $11.00 per hour to $12.00 per hour (as opposed to the $24.00 +) and did not have any customer service experience.
On top of this, the last class of individuals paid by Pinnacle making $17.00 per hour, before Pinnacle dropped the rate to $11.00 per hour, suddenly saw their contracts change and they were all informed that they would have to take a pay cut “or else”. Many quit. Those who chose to stay were eventually fired by Pinnacle Management on trumped up charges. Many of whom were solid, stellar, long term employees of Pinnacle/AT&T who had met their metrics “Faithfully”. When you work for greedy, money hungry companies the normal rules of employment simply don’t apply. This was a painful lesson I learned at AT&T.
AT&T was making all overtime mandatory and unlike AT&T’s unionized employees who were all able to leave after working the two hour mandatory overtime, the temporary associates could not. During these often 12 hour shifts, temporary staffing workers were given a one, 4 minute restroom break. They could not determine their own lunch times or break times, and AT&T’s scheduling team would intentionally schedule these people for early lunches and breaks practically at the start of their shift. This made it impossible for these people to have “any” breathing time during high work, highly stressful days. You were literally glued to your seat. If you moved, you could be fired as the calls were all automated. Many people started to quit as their legs and ankles started swelling up. When I asked to have my breaks and lunch times adjusted, I was blew off by Pinnacle Management, who honestly seemed terrified of Kimberly Wolfram and AT&T.
It was around this time that temporary staffing employees were told they could not miss a day for any reason, even a doctor’s visit. We were told that even with a doctor’s note, the day would not be excused (even though as temps it was still without pay). Pinnacle’s management was also heavily hostile to employees. Many of the management were inexperienced and making only $16.00 per hour. I would often hear my manager say that in Texas, as an employee, we had no rights.
What happened around this time is as soon as work started to slow, evidently AT&T gave the word to Pinnacle to cut heads. There was only one problem however. Pinnacle was still running class after class through in Training. This at a time when work was slow, and all the seats were filled. Suddenly Pinnacle managers started to quickly fire people. On anything they could find. Absolutely anything. Mistakes which were made months back and known to management and corrected by the employee were suddenly all suddenly relevant again. Managers at this time who had never worked the phones and did not how to handle calls would intentionally give employees bad info and when the call came back these same managers would suddenly hide their hands. So much so and with so many complaints from employees people were being told to place the manager’s name in the system.
During this time, I saw seat after seat empty around me. Good employees. Long term, hard working and dedicated employees. All marched out without a moments notice on trumped up, frivolous charges. Several seats emptied in one day, twelve seats the next day, and so on and so forth until it wasn’t many of us left. Pinnacle Technical Resources did not even have the decency to call this what it was which was a “Layoff”. They chose to fire dozens of people suddenly on anything they could find to keep their unemployment costs low. This was cruel thing to do to people. People who had worked so hard for not just pinnacle but AT&T.
I lost a LOT of trust in American Corporations when I saw that happen. These companies are not loyal to their employees and whenever they can they jump at the opportunity to screw the living daylights out of the people working for them. I suffered serious health problems while working for AT&T/Pinnacle and the job aged me tremendously. After I was fired/laid off on trumped up charges, after the seats around me were emptied to the point no one was there to really witness me leaving, the days after seemed like a blur. I had recieved so many recommendations from management about my job quality. I had been approached several times for a managers position which I had declined. I knew that the charges were trumped up, however, by this time I knew the way Pinnacle operated and it wasn’t good. When I filed for my unemployment, and I had my first interview, the man mentioned that the company had alleged “misconduct”. The Texas Unemployment Officer listened to my story, heard my passion, and ended the phone call. I was approved for my unemployment. Pinnacle had terminated so many people so soon, even those who were following “written directions” by management that later turned out to be wrong, that the Unemployment office was approving their claims anyway.
Later on, I found out that Pinnacle Technical Resources hired a company out of New York, Barnett Associates, a law office, to fight each and every unemployment claim, regardless of the merits. The company was looking for a way to lower its cost and if that meant screwing an employee they new to be a good employee, oh well.
One thing that will always stick out to me was the willingness of AT&T and Kimberly Wolfram to turn a blind eye to the employee abuses which occurred and is occurring under Pinnacle Technical Resources. Also, the willingness of Pinnacle’s managers, Mark Helm, Mike Smith, and others to allow these abuses and be a contributor to various employee abuses all in an attempt to keep their jobs. Mark Helm, the sneakiest and most abusive manager in my opinion of them all, was promoted by of all, Kimberly Wolfram, who turned out to be his partner in crime. Whispers, secret meetings, plotting and planning their company takeover and domination, must have worked for him. Because he recieved what he wanted which is a permanent position with AT&T. All while screwing others to get there.
I say to all of you, don’t do business with AT&T. Boycott with your money. Boycott AT&T with your $$$. They have shown they are willing to screw labor laws and f*** their employees and ship good American jobs overseas while bringing back crappy, underpaying ones (the ones they do bring back for media attention) and they don’t care about us or you.
Americans WAKE UP! Stop doing business with companies that market there products to you while shipping jobs that could benefit you and your family/friends all to other countries.
Shame on AT&T. Shame on their shitty manager Kimberly Wolfram/Mark Helm/Mike Smith and the worst abuser of them all (with AT&T’s permission of course) Pinnacle Technical Resources.
AT&T was once listed as the #1 employer for blacks. Now it should be listed the worse as it was mostly BLACKS that were getting screwed in this deal while white guys like Mark Helm and others were all being rewarded with promotions for their systematic abuse, neglect and racism of black workers.