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#636347 04/10/20 07:09 PM
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TO: Don Dunn
CWA Local 1108 President

I wish to acquaint you and your officers with a situation that has been on-going at the Town of Shelter Island for at least the last 18 years.

I am a retired 30-year employee of NYTelCo / AT&T and its subsequent company iterations. I worked as a station, key system, special services, and PBX repairman for 20 years in Manhattan, and for 10 years as a cable maintenance splicer in Southampton. My NCSD was 2-23-1970. I am fully conversant with how the company operates (or is supposed to operate.) I am certified as a telecommunications expert witness. I am a licensed & insured telecom electrician with Suffolk County Consumer Affairs.

Upon retirement in 1999, I formed a telephone installation and repair company, based on Shelter Island. One of my clients is the government of the Town of Shelter Island. My contract with the town requires me to identify and isolate line troubles, and either to repair problems on "our side" of the NID, or to report to Verizon troubles that test to "their side." I am also employed directly as the Fire Marshal of Shelter Island.

Over the years, I have repeatedly asked to be provided with a telephone number where I could make these reports to a knowledgeable repair clerk who would have, at least, a rudimentary understanding of how the phone company works, and who speaks English, in order that my repair requests would receive the appropriate attention, and be expedited due to the nature of the subscriber, i.e. a town government. My client's service includes the lines serving the general offices of the town along with more critical circuits, such as those of the Police, Fire and Highway departments. I offer my client a 4-hour response time for repairs in those departments.

99.9% of the time, the troubles are in Verizon's cables or equipment. There is a Pair-Gain box that serves the center of town where the police and fire departments are located. For years, the batteries were not serviced or replaced according to the BSP's or manufacturer's recommendations for those systems. Every summer, the box would overheat, fans would fail, batteries would eventually run down, and, especially during prolonged commercial power failures due to storms, the batteries would fail within a few minutes of the power failure. No trucks equipped with generators would ever arrive, with the result that critical circuits would fail almost immediately.

On one occasion, I was able to reach one of the company's so-called "engineers" (God knows where or how he received his engineering degree, since he was clueless). I explained that his PG box was situated exactly 6 feet from a government building equipped with an emergency back-up generator. I suggested that the town and the company join forces and the town would provide a weatherproof outlet and cord set to allow the building generator to power the PG equipment. His answer was that "You can't do that because the telephone company uses a special type of electricity." What do you say to a person who is so mentally-challenged? On one occasion during the aftermath of a severe hurricane, the chief of police directed the fire department to remove the padlock on the PG equipment power inlet, so that we could hook up a portable generator to it to get the cops' lines back up.

We have met with foremen, district managers, engineers, crafts people, and Big Shiny White Helmets from HQ. No amount of pleading and begging has ever resulted in solutions to our problems. We did convince one repairman (now retired) to swap a few critical lines off of the PG and back onto copper to an adjacent building on our government campus. That solved the police department problems permanently.

This week, I called 1-800VERIZON to report an important line out of service. The report was made on Monday morning. The commitment time was Thursday, by 8 pm. I then called another toll-free number that I had used before. They transferred my call to no fewer than 4 other toll-free numbers, over the course of a two hour attempt to expedite the repair. Some of the connections (presumably via VoIP or SIP trunks, manned by people with impenetrable accents in far-away lands) were so bad that I needed to hang up and try again, repeatedly. One would think that the phone company, of any company, would strive for clear connections.

On Thursday the repairman, Roy, arrived and made the repair in less than 15 minutes. It was, as usual, a wet short located in a defective, antique F2 cable. Thank-you to Roy. He's one of the good ones.

Some of the reasons that the repair clerk gave me for NOT expediting the repair:
"Our trucks do not go on boats."
"In the summer, we have a reduced work force."
"We will wait until there are at least three reports before we can roll a truck."
"We cannot temporarily forward the calls to another number because our system will not do that."
And of course the old standby excuse: "The trouble must be in your equipment."

Today, Friday, I notified the town officials that I would be meeting with a sales rep from Optimum. There are a total of 46 Centrex and POTS lines involved. I am reluctantly recommending that the Town make the switch to Optimum/LightPath. As a former faithful employee and Union brother, it pains me to do this. But these days, my allegiance is to my client, and by extension, to the citizens of our town, who deserve not to be abused and harmed by the fools in Verizon's management any longer. Verizon "services" our town the way a bull "services" a cow.

Trust me, I could write about 50 other events over the years in which your irresponsible employer absolutely refused to provide even the most basic support to the town, its citizens or to a long list of my other clients. On a positive note, your members are always there for us, and try to do the right thing, against almost insurmountable obstacles. Thank you for listening.

Fraternally Yours,
Arthur P. Bloom

“30 years of faithful service…15 years on HOLD.”


Arthur P. Bloom
"30 years of faithful service...15 years on hold"

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popcorn

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do you think this would have happened in an ATT world?

it sounds like the "breakup" is working out well according to the government plan.


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:)))))


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It's sad. Just sad.

Do you think the CWA can do anything about this? (THAT is a rhetorical question. What control have they had in the last 50 years - if ever?)

Do they still have Presidential Complaints? Those used to work. At least some of the time....

Sam

Last edited by Silversam; 04/12/20 02:04 PM.

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I sent that letter 3 years ago. I have not had the pleasure of a reply as of this date.


Arthur P. Bloom
"30 years of faithful service...15 years on hold"

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As much as I sympathize with the reason for the letter I'm not sure what the union, any union, could do. Their job is to protect workers rights not to make sure the company has competent people in authority to make decisions that treat customers as they should be treated. I shook my head many times at the way AT&T operated, I've seen first hand in joint union management meetings where we pleaded with the company to not do what they were planning as it would lose customers and cost jobs. It all fell on deaf ears and of course the members would ask us why we didn't do more, so we caught it from both ends. Just look now at copper plant, how many years did the unions try to persuade the companies to repair and maintain it? Now look at the state of service where the plant has deteriorated to the point of no or at the best very poor service where fiber wasn't run, with no plans to run it now. Anyway, that's my take and I too could give you numerous stories and situations on the issue, but it's too late now, the jobs are gone.

Last edited by justbill; 04/12/20 01:05 AM.

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Well written.

In my last two jobs, I provided IT support to ~200 user companies. Of course phone service is essential to any business. I remember staying at work until 11PM one night while AT&T repaired our PRI that went completely down. Lots of old cable in the area.

We had a group of POTS lines dedicated to dialing into burglar alarm panels for programming. We had issues dialing out and entered trouble tickets on two of those lines. Mother Bell sent two technicians, at the same time, to the same building, one for each ticket. Spoiler: only one human can fit in the phone closet at a time!

At my current shop we hae 5 lines going into a Norstar 616. One day, we started having bizarre issues. Lines were ringing randomly, bleeding over onto one another, could not hear customers, etc.
AT&T came out and replaced an underground splice case that was completely rusted through.
My personal favorite, it takes two technicians and two vehicles to make (1) key copy.


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Arthur, what took do long to switch?

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Jeff, as much as your Uncle Arthur loves and admires you, and please don't take it the wrong way, when I say to you "You do not know the depths of stupidity and disfunction of Ma Bell until you have toiled on her rolling decks for 30 years."

Let's be friends, and I promise not to start telling Mother stories that would make you do multiple facepalms. Here's just one, to entertain you this evening:

It falls into the "foreman is less educated that the the guys he supervises" department.

In the Seinfeld TV shows, they always show the facade of a NYC restaurant, and then cut to the interior. The inside is just a set, but the outside is actually Tom's Restaurant, a typical NYC Greek-owned diner. It's at West 112th Street and Broadway. The western omelets with a side of home-made steak fries were a delight. The repairmen from the West 130th Street garage, of whom I was one, would all drive our vans to that area every morning, and have breakfast. The local businesses complained that the phone company trucks were taking all the parking places, and blocking the bus stops and fire hydrants. Double-parked vans were also causing tsuris. Our foreman issued the following edict: "I don't want youse guys coagulatin' at that restaurant."

I gotta million of 'em.


Arthur P. Bloom
"30 years of faithful service...15 years on hold"

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