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Letter To All AT$T Employees And Contractors: AT$T Is Training H-1B Foreign Nationals In Oakbrook, Illinois, White Plains, New York And Pleasanton, California To Perform 4E and 5E Network Programing And Maintenence As A Contingency Work Force In The Event Of A Strike By CWA

To all AT&T employees and contractors,

Are you aware, within our very organizations, AT&T is placing national security at great risk? The Company either has or is in the process of off-shoring the programming and maintenance of the major engineering systems and databases. Worse, AT&T is training foreign nationals to perform network programming and maintenance for the 4E and 5E switch networks. One disaffected individual could wreak catastrophic damage to the long distance network.

Such a person, with access to the switch network, may do anything from crashing the entire network to monitoring a single T1. The 4E/5E switch network is the most reliable in the world. Because it is so, the overwhelming majority of U.S. military, financial services, utility and transportation infrastructure and emergency response long distance voice and data telecommunications run across it. That one disaffected individual, typing on a keyboard, holds countless lives of U.S. soldiers and civilians in his/her fingers.

We, the undersigned, are Communications Workers of America (CWA) local union presidents. CWA is a labor union that represents 25,000+ AT&T occupational employees. From some of our locals, management and occupational work has already moved off shore. In the others, foreign nationals, from various countries, are currently in training to perform management and occupational work in preparation to move it out of the country. In each case, the trainees are sequestered in secure locations. Other employees and union officials are denied access.

In Oakbrook IL, Indian foreign nationals are in training to perform 4E and 5E maintenance. AT&T Labor Relations advised CWA National Vice-President Ralph Maly, these people are training to be a contingency work force in the event of a strike. In White Plains NY, and Pleasanton CA, AT&T trainers are schooling Chinese nationals in what is believed to be occupational and management programming work. In Cincinnati OH, extensive amounts of network and systems programming work are already gone. The primary engineering systems, most notably TIRKS, moved to India by way of IBM. If you call to open a trouble ticket on TIRKS, the system, you will speak to someone in Bangalore, India.

Although we are obviously concerned about the loss of domestic employee work, that issue is of minimal consequence compared to the national security risks. By investing the maintenance and programming of the switch networks in foreign nationals AT&T is placing U. S. military, financial and infrastructure communications in the hands of potential terrorists, perhaps operating from their own countries. Our concern is so great we drafted a letter that was carried by the delegates to the CWA Legislative Conference to every member of Congress they met with during the week of March Fourth. At this point, may we suggest you follow the link and read the letter? Click on "News." Scroll down to the 3-9-02 entry and the link entitled "Letter to Congress".

The issues raised by the letter received a great deal of attention from many members of The Senate and The House. A number of congressional offices called AT&T. To date, AT&T has no comment. Not coincidentally, the March Fifth issue of ESAP included a piece prohibiting employees from speaking to the press, government officials or analysts about any aspect of the business. Numerous wire services including Reuters, Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal picked up the issue and published articles.

We are sure you noted AT&T CEO Armstrong's disturbing history of placing profits before national security. The following link will provide you with nine articles from the New York Times and Washington Post regarding his sale of missile technology to China while CEO of Hughes. Click on "News." Scroll down to the 3-10-02 entry.

AT&T perpetrated this catastrophe-in-the-making by abusing the H-1b Visa program. Passed in 1992, by the Clinton administration, the program allows companies to recruit foreign nationals to perform types of work for which there is a lack of skilled Americans. AT&T uses this visa to simply replace its domestic work force. Programmers in Cincinnati were forced to train their H-1b replacements who then returned to their country of origin to perform the work. The programmers were separated or reassigned. This scenario is playing out in each of the locals above. For extensive information on the H-1b visa debacle visit Click on "Just US News and Views" and "Community and Political Action."

Armstrong has a lot of nerve. Even as he offers no comment to our national security issues he trumpets the CEO wide area network hotline that AT&T just announced it would build. The network will allow CEO's to contact each other in the event of a terrorist attack. What switch network do you think it is going to run through?

At this point, the locals involved are gathering further information. We seek any information pertaining to: the types of work and systems, who performs the work, where they are, who lost it, numbers of jobs lost and most importantly, national security ramifications. The CWA National office is working with members of the Senate Armed Services and Intelligence Committees. We will not let this issue rest.

Not surprisingly, the Company carefully controls any documentation relative to off shoring. Most managers associated with these issues were required to sign non-disclosure agreements. Apparently, the Company has a great need for secrecy.

Nonetheless, we need your help. If you or someone you know is in a position to provide information on the off shoring of our work please contact any of us. All communications will remain strictly confidential.

We fully acknowledge the Company's extreme sensitivity to these issues and the corresponding high risk of disciplinary action. But with all due respect, we ask you to consider whether your loyalty to this country is greater than your loyalty to, or fear of, AT&T senior management. Do you have a family member in the military? Our soldiers and perhaps even our families' lives are at risk.

Any one can help. Whether or not you can provide information you can write your congressmen and women. Go to Input your zip code and start e-mailing. Or when you go to your representatives' websites make note of their fax numbers. We were advised that because of the high security for regular mail most offices are now backed up on their e-mail. Faxed personal letters are the current best method of congressional communication.

We wish to make clear our separation between AT&T and its current senior management. We wish no harm to the Company itself. Most of us are or were AT&T employees. It is the current senior management team, led by Armstrong, whom we deeply resent.

Further, nothing in this letter is intended to show disrespect or hostility towards any other country, its culture or its citizens. We bear no animosity towards any individual H-1b or other visa carrying employee. Like us, you are trying to earn a living and feed your families. It is not your fault AT&T upper management exploited some of you to replace U.S. employees.

Please contact us at the addresses and numbers below.

Seven months ago, we all would have been more inclined to ignore these risks. But now, we cannot afford to.  Especially, when such a disaster is within our power to prevent.

In Unity,

Mary Lou Algiere, President CWA Local 1153, White Plains, NY 914-761-1157 [email protected], Dan Danaher, President CWA Local 4998, Lisle, IL 630-455-4990 [email protected], Steve Tisza, President CWA Local 4250, Chicago, IL 312-988-9177 [email protected], Kathy Kinchius, President CWA Local 9415, Oakland, CA 510-834-9415 [email protected], Keith Adams, President CWA Local 4351, Cincinnati, OH 513-721-2074 [email protected]
cc. Ralph Maly, Vice President CWA?AT&T Communications & Technologies 

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