Advertising sales representatives at Dex One Corp., which has about 50 employees in Salt Lake City, have taken to the picket line in a strike against the company that publishes the Yellow Page directories and operates the Dex Knows website.
They say the strike is a protest against the company for its failure to bargain in good faith on a new labor contract, an assertion Dex denies.
The workers are members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 1269, which represents 350 or so Dex sales reps in Utah and six other Western states. Almost all of Dex’s Utah employees are members of the IBEW.
Casey Lewis, president and assistant business manager for the local, said the company has demanded the right to outsource the employees’ work.
“We have attempted by every means possible to obtain a fair contract. We have been negotiating with the company for over six weeks. Under the company’s last offer, all of our jobs could be outsourced at the company’s whim,” Lewis said.
The issue represents the primary hurdle standing in the way of a new contract, added Karen Gowdy, public relations coordinator for IBEW Local 1269. “Wages and benefits aren’t an issue.”
Chris Hardman, spokesman for Dex One, offered a different perspective on the dispute.
“Ours is a business in transformation,” Hardman said. “We’re a company that is going from a print-only environment to a digital, multimedia environment, and what we are seeking is greater operating flexibility.”
He said what the union is describing as outsourcing can best be described by the company as “concurrent selling,” which eventually would allow third-party businesses and other vendors to sell the company’s advertising and other services. “We are not seeking to outsource jobs overseas. What we are trying to do is increase our customer base with the help of additional resources.”
Hardman said only about two of every 10 local businesses in the company’s 28-state market territory are Dex customers. “We see a lot of opportunity, but we need to find new ways to reach out to those potential customers.”
Gowdy said Local 1269 has filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board against the company, contending it has been bargaining in bad faith, attempting to coerce workers to quit the union and unlawfully interfering with employee’s protected rights under federal labor law.
Local 1269’s contract with Dex One expired May 4. Gowdy said no further talks are scheduled between the company and the IBEW.