October 20, 2014
By Marc Bussanich
Staten Island, NY—Working conditions at the E-ZPass facility have been going from bad to worse as customer service representatives rallied here over the weekend to build support for a new contract with Xerox.
In the accompanying video, we interviewed Steve Lawton, vice president with Local 1102, and Valerie Valentine, an E-ZPass rep for 18 years.
Lawton said Saturday’s rally is meant to build up support as the local tries to negotiate a third contract with Xerox.
“This rally is in support of the Xerox workers who run the E-ZPass call center for New York State. It’s been about six years of a struggle to get the changes the workers really need,” said Lawton.
One change the workers are looking for is an end to the piecework.
“The [piecework] makes it really hard for the workers to have a dignified wage each and every week. The problem with this system is that the company requires more from each call, so with each new question a rep asks the pay goes down because they only have a four-minute timeframe,” Lawton said.
The reps used to work directly for the Dallas-based, business process outsourcing company Affiliated Computer Services before Xerox bought it in 2009 for $6 billion as Xerox expanded beyond merely selling printers and copiers. But now they work for a native New Yorker, Ursula Burns, who became Xerox’s CEO in 2009, the company’s first African-American woman CEO.
“I think as New Yorkers we want employers to come here that allow us to be able to work and live where we work. I think that Ursula Burns would agree with that. We’re really hopeful, as the company has indicated, that they would come to the table and be open to fair negotiations for a fair contract,” said Lawton.
Ms. Valentine said she’s enjoyed working with E-ZPass over the past 18 years, but not of late as the company has been making changes. She hopes a new contract will improve conditions.
“They [Xerox] need to take care of how long people have been there and the new people they need to treat them respectfully because it takes a lot for a person to do the job we do,” said Valentine.