DirectTV installation and maintenance technicians in Sacramento, California refused to work on January 30 because one of their fellow technicians was unfairly fired.
The company fired Anthony Estrada, a two-year DirectTV employee, because it claimed that he lost a $300 meter used to aim satellite dishes.
According to the workers, Estrada’s firing was the first time that the company had fired someone for losing a meter or other tool of any kind.
“We have had guys lose a meter before,” said one technician. “They just made them pay the depreciation cost.”
Estrada is one of 130 DirectTV workers at the company’s McClellan Business Park office in Sacramento
The workers are members of Communication Workers of America Local 9421, a 1500 member local whose members work for AT&T in the Sacramento area.
AT&T bought DirectTV in 2015, and since then many DirectTV workers have joined CWA locals.
California and Nevada DirectTV workers, including those in Sacramento, joined CWA in 2016 and have been bargaining for their first contract.
At present, because there is no contract there is no agreed upon grievance procedure for resolving the kinds of unfair disciplinary actions that led to Estrada’s firing. As a result, the workers decided to take direct action to protest the company’s unjust firing.
The job action began on a Monday, and escalated on Tuesday when workers showed up outside the DirectTV service center and refused to go to work again.
At that point, the company said that it was locking out the workers.
The company’s action however, failed to intimidate the workers, and they showed up again on Wednesday en masse with picket signs reading, “WE ARE ONE.”
On Thursday, the company refused to allow the workers to use restroom facilities in the office, but the workers maintained their picket lines outside the office.
While the workers’ job action continued, the union and the company met to discuss ways to end the job action.
On Friday morning, the two sides announced an agreement, and the technicians resumed work on Friday afternoon.
The agreement did not restore Estrada’s job immediately; instead, the two sides agreed to bring the issue of his firing to the bargaining table.
The union and company are scheduled to meet on February 8 at which time CWA will present its case for reinstating Estrada.
“It didn’t go 100 percent the way we wanted to, but it’s still not over yet,” said Estrada to the Sacramento Bee.