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September 16, 2003

SBC: Pro-Civil Liberties, Pro-Labor

Who'd a thunk it. From the heart of Texas comes one of the most pro-labor and pro-civil liberties company, SBC Communications.

Unlike its cable and telephone brethren -- BellSouth, Comcast, EarthLink, Time Warner Cable and Verizon -- who have rushed to hand over the names of those accused of being illegal file sharers to RIAA administrative subpeonas, SBC is refusing to hand over names of its customers.

Verizon lost a court case at the district level, but started handing over names even before its appeal was heard. Not so SBC:

SBC, however, has sued the recording industry group in California.

"We are going to challenge every single one of these that they file until we are told that our position is wrong as a matter of law," James D. Ellis, general counsel for SBC, said yesterday in a telephone interview.

What is remarkable about SBC is that even as they are looking out for the interests of their customers, they also look out for the interests of their employees. Alone among the Baby Bells, they have developed amicable and even pro-labor policies in supporting the organizing efforts of the Communication Workers of America in moving into new areas of the company. Here is how CWA President Morty Bahr described the company in addressing its shareholders meeting-- and the fact that a union president was addressing the shareholders tells you a lot:
This is the first time that the international president of our union has been invited to speak to the shareholders of one of our employers...Several years ago, SBC under Ed Whitacre's leadership and CWA embarked on a journey together which led to this invitation and my participation in this meeting. The company and the union made a commitment to rewrite the textbooks on labor management relations not only in telecommunications, but hopefully to set an example for all of American business.

And we are doing just that...

At the beginning of this process in 1997, I asked Ed to address our annual convention. It was the first time in 42 years a CEO had appeared before a CWA convention...

SBC and CWA together are creating a model employer and business based on mutual respect and understanding. The value that this relationship adds to the company is evident in many ways.

SBC Communications-- they are one of the good guys in corporate America.

Posted by Nathan at September 16, 2003 04:53 PM