Mountain Xpress: settlement reached between Sitel, union

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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Asheville’s Sitel call center is in the news again. According to Mountain Xpress, in May the National Labor Relations Board found enough substance in charges against Sitel to set a hearing for Aug. 20.

After attempts to form a union, allegations of union-busting and worker complaints about dehumanizing conditions including too few women’s restrooms and a policy that disallowed union material at work, Sitel has reached a settlement with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

From a Mountain Xpress article:

The company faced charges that it had threatened to fire a worker for participating in union organizing, that it violated federal law through an overly restrictive social media policy and by arbitrarily removing union materials from employees’ desks and other areas in the facility. Some of the facility’s employees, complaining about low wages and working conditions, are trying to organize a union at the call center.


Sitel will post a notice of the settlement and its conditions at the Asheville call-center for at least 60 days, and make the document available company-wide on its intranet. Furthermore, the company agrees to “remove or revise” its social media policy, which forbade employees to mention the company, post information about it or speak to the media without express approval.

The pro-union Facebook group Organize Sitel Asheville had this to say today:

Sitel was charged with “maintaining and enforcing an illegal social media policy” whereby employees were directed under penalty of termination and potential civil action, ‘from mentioning the company name, any information about the company, or making reference to the company on the intranet”. Further Sitel was investigated and formally charged with “coercive rules” which forbade employees from speaking to the media on their own behalf about wages, work conditions and hours. Both charges violate federal law.

Sitel was also alleged to be guilty of misusing its “solicitation and distribution policy” to restrain pro union workers from having union literature on their possession. In this instance a member of Sitel management confiscated union leaflets from numerous Sitel employees illegally.

Forming or assisting a union is a protected civil right. Freedom of speech is a constitutional right. Being allowed to work in an environment free from harassment and intimidation is a human right.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Worker’s advocates a workplace democracy whereby these rights as well as others, are protected by the security of a legally enforceable contract.

Many of your coworkers have have placed themselves in the cross hairs in an effort to stand up for all our rights. We want the decision of whether or not to unionize to be our decision, and ours alone. In a recent all employees our site manager stated “we do not believe a union is in the best interest of our employees.” That is precisely the issue: Sitel doesn’t have the right to decide.

Full post from Organize Sitel Asheville here. Organize Sitel Asheville Facebook page here.

Union efforts continue at the center.

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

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