Workers at Asheville call center file complaint with NLRB, say management threatened reprisals after workers discussion unionizing

Jason Sandford

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

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Here’s a note from an reliable, anonymous source who has some information about work conditions at Sitel, a call center located on Hendersonville Road. The center is a major local employer, with about 600 workers.

The story is in part, the Unfair Labor Practice which is a matter of public record. The docket # is Sitel Case Number 11-CA-070788 with a file date of 12/15/2011. The filing alleges that the company threatened or intimidated an employee or employees with the loss of thier job due to union activity. It further alleges another incident of threats without implying the loss of a job.

Locally, the wage is $8.00 an hour or slightly less than the average Wal Mart greeter earns. I have seen single mothers go all day without food since they are forced to make the choice netween bus fare and lunch. We, the employees, recently began a food collective whereby we donate 50 cents each (or more if possible) towards the stocking of a food pantry for our less fortunate fellow workers. Very many persons with physical limitations or disabilities work in Asheville, yet every morning I watch them jostle and compete for the too few handicapped parking spaces as they are then forced to walk several hundred feet, uphill to work. I could go on.

We are attempting to form a union. On November 17th, 57 people signed a petition protesting that over 150 women are being forced to use a facility with only ONE toillet. it has been this way many months. Many of these women have mobility issues and cannot walk 200 feet to the other restroom. This creates an unsanitary and dehumanizing condition. The company or rather the site director, sent an e-mail saying it was “temporary.

The NLRB charge alleges that an employee or employees who signed the petiton were interrogated about it which is clearly against Federal law.

What have you heard?

Jason Sandford

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

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  1. Don January 2, 2012

    Lot of good things posted here…I am glad to see that some are very pasionate about how they feel. It takes that kind of passion. We Sitel empoyees who favor a union are not going away. We 100% respect how those who disagree with us may feel.

    In a place the size of Sitel with 600 people, it may take a year or longer. I have seen union organizing campaigns go on as long a FIVE years, and the union won too. Right now we are just in the infancy stages of this, trying to get the FACTS out there but, people are letting us know of their interest on a daily basis.

    We have every intention of bringing the issue to an employee vote. We will have a union or NOT have a union, based soley on a fair and legal election, and NOT because Sitel tells us it will “be bad for us.”

    The fact is that based on the numbers, 50% of the people who work at Sitel today will not be there within 9 months.Sitel knows this as well and believes it gives THEM a tactical advantgae. I disagree. I think with new blood, comes new ides and beliefs and it gives us an edge. We are in NO hurry to try and “force” a vote.

  2. Bill January 2, 2012

    To our fellow employees.

    Unless you are blind, you can see that because of the union campaign at Sitel, waht is being said in these meetings is being read from a prepared script. That script is produced and written by a very large union bsuting law firm, Oagletree Deakins. They have poffice in all major cities and thier specialty is “labor law” there business is busting unions and business is good. I challenge anyone interestd in something uhm loke the TRUTH to chek them out.

    My question to managent is this. If as you are tellinng us, you “respect our wishes but want us to get the facts” why are you reading comments from a script. Why is it that when anyone asks a question NOT on the script, you dont know how to answer? The reason is you dont want any questions in the first place. The metting are really nomeant for discusiion unless the discusion is anti union.

    Why does Sitel feel the need to hire thes behnd the scens consultants to deal with a workforce that Sitel claims to “love’? Why doesnt sitel wllow people from the union or the NLRB to come and talk? you know, if you really ARE being fair and honest Sitel why would you object to that?

    I think the answer is because Sitel is so afraid we will eanr the truth, we might go for it lol.

    All of a sudden everyone at Sitel is a Labor expert. Heck a lot of the people who work there believe we cant even have a union because “North Carolina is a non union state.” I dont blame the employees, this region isnt exactly crawling with unions. But I do take great issue with a company that twists thngs, blames people, makes others feel guilty and afraid. I think that is wrong. I think it is abusive. people are upset. Most of them are upset becuase they have the impression Sitel will shut down if a unioin comes in.

    Guess what? Sitel WANTS you to think that. Sitel so wnats you to think that so you will then place the blame on a union whoby the way, has never once set foot inside Sitel’s building.So let’s break that down. Sitel gets us for at least 8 hours a day and sometimes we goto these meetings. The union gets the employees for how long?

    Either way Sitel knows it has problems both as a corporration and here locally. Sitel knows

  3. Jennifer December 31, 2011


    Food Pantry: Not started by employees, yes employees do suplement the panty with additonal supplies. However, at least once a month it is restocked by a member of management. I would also like to add that it is my pleasure to give money and or food to others who may need it. Don’t take something good and turn it into something that sounds bad.

    Handicap Parking: It is my understanding that Sitel has a lease and the owener of the lease is responsible for parking. Also, the handicap parking used to be in the front of the building before the construction at Wal-mart. Now the grade in front of the building is not in code to have the handicap parking in front of the doorway. There are also some designated parking spaces outback labeled reserved to help supliment the number of labeled handicap spaces. Looks like Sitel did what that could to get additional spaces.

    Petition: 57 people signed a petion protesting that over 150 women are being forced to use one toilet. Really, If I count there are at least 12-14 stalls with working toilets. I am one of the employees that signed that petition. It was put to me that it was to get more stalls on the end of the building I work in and was ment to go to Jean Harmon to let her know that we were not happy about having to walk to the other end of the building which I have to say is not that far come on guys. I understand that there may be some ladies that have medical issues and need to have the restroom closer lets let them use the one at our end and the ones of us who are able take the extra step and go to the other restroom. Again, the site director did say it was tempory. They are working on it. That is what the petition was for. I can’t speak for the others but I have not been approched by anyone in management for my actions of signing the petition. In fact I went to them to let them know I was sorry that it ended up in the wrong hands as it was the not ment for that. As for the restrooms their is enough just maybe not in the desired locations of everyone. The larger restroom is located near the breakroom.

    Newsmedia: There were only a few people outside. However the others were inside doing their jobs taking phone calls. If you work inside the building you know as well as I do there are more people talking that they do not want a Union. I have only seen a few stickers myself that are prounion.

    Union Post: The major portion of post on these sites are from people in a union. Honest people making commments about what they see already here. What they see is something that has been blown way out of proportion. I respect the people who are passionate about their cause but this is not the cause of anyone other than Sitel workers.

    This is not ment to offend anyone I just feel that my action have been misreprsented regarding the petition and I wanted everyone who reads this to get some true facts. It just makes me angry that what a few people tried to do got turned into Sitel workers wanting a Union. Just not true!

    1. Food Pantry:
      Are you saying that anyone OTHER than employees contributes money? Are you saying the company BUYS items for the pantry? Do you not recall seeing the donation jars for us to put money in during the “Just 50 cent” campaign? Of course the company does not contribute to this. So you say it was not started by the employees? Then if you are right, that means SITEL admits it doesn’t pay enough for us to even eat…..

      Handicap Parking:

      The US Dept of Justice who oversees complaince with the Americans with Disabilities Act states that if an employer provides parking for all employees, regardless of whether the employer owns or rents its facility, then the EMPLOYER is obligated to accomadate disabled or handicapped person with parking spaces that comply with the LAW. also the EEOC says that any employee who has a disability that may qaulify for a request for a “reasonable accomadation” can request the company to furnish that employee with parking that would NOT force that employee to endure a physical hardship such as having to wlak uphill or a distance greater than the employee can walk. If you don’t believe this, stay tuned. rumor has it that an attorney is already working on this. Many people have tried the “Open Door” policy to get their needs met only to be told what YOU were told” Blame the landlord. Broken Door policy is more like it.

      Petiton: Everyone who signed it apprently did so after reading it. Everyone who signed it did so as a result of Sitel’s ignoring numerous INDIVIDUAL complaints. people signed it because they felt it was the right thing to do. I applaud them.

      NO ONE other than Sitel has ever said signing the petiton meant you “wanted to join the union” The union had nothing to do with the petition. Did they know about it? of course because the union was contacted by several employees. it is a fact that Sitel is now holding “ant union” meetings and telling employees that the union decieved them, betrayed them and sold them out. This is a lie. Sitel is now cautioning employees about siging ANY pettiton and trying to frighten people. Sitel is trying to make the union the “bad guy”. I heard a senior member of mangement tell us in a meeting to “be careful of registering on that website, you might be signing up to join the union,’ I was there. this is an absolute LIE and I don’t believe for a single second that mangment doesn’t KNOW it is a lie. look the las up for yourself. and you wonder why we want a union…..

      By the way the damn bathrooms have been this way sicne mid July. I dont know what your feinition of “temprorary” is, but it is now January 2012.

      YOU may not have been approached or threatened because you signed the peition but that does NOT mean others haven’t been. You say the petion “ended up in the wrong hands” What does that mean exactly? Do you maybe mean that since it has been mentioned in the news and sitel doesn’t like that, that the UNION did it?

      I disagree with you about the other bathroom “isn’t that far.” Look around. there are a lot of people who work there that have numerous physical limitaitons. This is what the Law says Jennifer. If an employee “modifies” the work environment in anyway that might POSSIBLY affect a disabled employee the COMPANY has the obligation to seek out every disabled employee and make an ACCOMADATION so that person is not affected in an adverse way. haing to walk the entire length of that building just to relieve yourself while also being under the pressure of having your “break aux” go over and threaten your next raise is unfair to somone who cannot walk as fast as me and you. Tell me I am worng. sitel knows exactly those employees who are affected because they have the damn ADA paperwork, or they see the person with a walker or a cructh or a cane or wahtever…coyuldnt they have asked if maybe an extra 5 6 or 7 minutes break time would help them? Get real Jennifer. IT IS SITELS LEGAL OBLIGATION…….

      News Media:

      About 40 different TV stations, newspapers and online news sites have picked this story up. Why? As for you saying you’;ve only seen a few people wearing “stickers that are pr union. I ask you to consider this: in the climate that Sitel is trying to create against the union and against those who suport the union would YOU wear a union sicker Jennifer? I know I would and I do. But that in NO way makes the people who are pro union any LESS pro union if they decide they don’t want to wear a sticker at work. You can take my word on that ok? no one is the “enemy”.

      1. Asmewhy January 1, 2012


        The bottom line is not about who wears a pro union sticker but who they will VOTE when the time comes and it IS going to come.

        Me personally, I dont think it takes much courage to wear an “anti union: sitcker at Sitel lol..but I do respect the rights of those who do so. I only wish they would get a second opinon to the misnformation that the comapny is saying in these damn forced attedance ant union meetings. I mean they SAY “we respect whatever you decide” So why dont they let the UNION come in and talk for 15 minutes to a captive audience and tell the UNION story? How come Jennifer?

    2. Bethechange January 1, 2012

      a member of managmnt may put the food in the breakroom but managemnt doesnt buy it, it is bought with money contributed by employees is a wonderful thing to do for each other, but it does speak to the fact that this isnt a living wage,the petition was about the bathroom, that was all it was ever intended to be,,it is Sitel who construed it to mean anything else, and continues to do so in these meetings.. no on was misled by the people who passed it around, it was only ever intended to address collectively an issue that has been left temporary for far too long,this is known as concerted activity to improve workplace conditions and to come together for the mutual aid and defense of each other is a protected activity under then NLRB,even if there is no union and should never had been used by managemnt to incite fear in the signors to the point they are now feeling they have to appologize for it, that is appalling…i hate that you are anyone else had been made to feel they did anything wrong by collectively speaking out using a protected act about an issue that at the time all agreed we were concerned about .. shame on Sitel for making anyone feel that way ! We had a right to come together in that way .. even if we do not have a union the NLRB does NOT just protect members of unions!!!!.. the petition never started to be about a union and it was never intended to be about one you were not tricked by those who made it or passed it around .. Sitel was the one who put that out there to make people like you feel like you were tricked..This almost borders on evil, really it does

      1. Jennifer January 1, 2012

        You say the union is not misleading the public but the below clip from the newspaper is straight from the union. It makes it sound that the 60 people who signed the petition are discussing forming a union. That is just not so. Like I said, I signed the petion in regards to the restroom. I was never made feel I needed to apologise just wanted everyone to know that I was not for the union. It was workers representing themselves not through a union. And like you said workers are protected not just those in a union. We have the right if we feel the need to go to the NLRB as employees we don’t need a union for that.

        (second paragraph in newspaper) About 60 employees signed a protest petition saying more than 150 women had to work in a facility with only one toilet, and they began discussing forming a union to address that and other concerns, said John Murphy, a Franklin-based spokesman for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

        As for the pantry I don’t want to debate. It may be your perception that management doesnt have anything to do with it. I challenge you to ask the lady that stocks the pantry and if you trully work at sitel you will know who that is. She will be more than happy to confirm what I say. And you know as well as everyone else that no matter what someone makes there are always people out there that can use help every now and then.

        1. Jennifer January 1, 2012

          This post was ment for both previous comments. Sorry, ment to post up top.

          1. I contribute to the food pantry. i dindt donate blood though when the red cross came by. Sitel asked us to sign up if we were interested and then about 20 minute befor they arrived told us to be sure and clokc out if we anted to donate. yet anohter instnace wherethe WORKERS contributed and Sitel wnated to get the good PR form it.

          2. bill January 1, 2012

            Jennifer, I may have misunderstood you and if so, I apologize. I know who stocks the pantry and the point I am making is that if she does contribute and it would be in her nature to do so, it come out of her own pocket as an employee. but I dont think that is the same thing as jean say, taking some of the vending machine money and chipping in, do you?

            Look I am glad you love sitel and apprently feel protective of the company. Not everyone shares your views. Also, when you have to strain at a point that” management contributes to the food pantry” when as discussed, this person is doing it from her won funds, then I think you are sort of practicing the same type of distortion to support your views as you say the union has done.

            By the way how much do you think the vending machines rake in every week? Just asking………they cost Sitel nothing and my understanding is that the profits went to buy those “Sitel TV” screens that you cant even see lol…..Maybe I am wrong about that I have no real way to know and I am sure not going to ask Jean for an audit:) but hey maybe 100 a week out of the machine profits towards the pantry? Would you be on board with that?

            One more time Sitel Inc does not donate one red cent towards that pantry.becaue oif they did, it would be ACKNOWLEDGUING they pay starvation wages Jennier.

        2. bethechange January 2, 2012

          what i am trying to say is workers have right to collectively bargain for what they want…whats the freaking big deal anyway ???? and let me ask one HUGE question, why does anyone there feel the need to let managemnt know they dont want a union? why go in and appolize and make sure they know it, if its not motivated by fear ?? So what if i am pro union???? if im in the minority that in its self has no power,it means as much as preffering vanilla ice cream ,, if i am not and the majority feel that way( which it will be pretty hard to get a reall bead on now, Sitel is good ) ..then it is obvious that we should be allowed to exercise our right to bargain collectively with our employer….we are represented to get that done, not told what we will do by the union, the union helps us make sure we get to exercise our rights, and advocates.for us, its not another unity of oppression…the ones who lose power wont be the workers it will be corporation, thats why they fight so hard…i live in america i dont think democracy is a bad thing, and i do believe absolute power, corrupts absolutely ….how many would really want to find out what unionizing could do for us all,,, how will we really know until they are truly given a completely clear path to find out for them selves.with people crying and making a scene everyday . you have absolutly no idea what a typical union contract negotiates do you ? alll you know is somebodys making it sound pretty threatening if it happens,i understand that, and the newsapaper didnt get that part of the story quite right, i agree

          1. bethechange January 2, 2012

            first there was the petition….meanwhile some people also wantsed to learn more about the unions that are helping call centers all over the countries. the events are related in nature, and because people were talking about these idea, maybe not you.. but some people were threatened, for the last time !!! the union had nothing to do with the petetion no matter what it said in the paper…read what the organizer says himself on the time frame…now you tell me who is putting that together to intimdate workers?

        3. nik January 2, 2012

          Jennifer: I do appreciate how you post with respect, state your case intellegently and I admire that.

          My question to you on more than a rhetorical basis is WHY you do not have a problem with the COMPANY misleading the employees?

  4. Danbifield December 30, 2011

    Like My Job:

    I am not going to attack you ok? But what you are saying is this: you claim only 5% are pro union. Wiht I think it is 600 people, that comes out to 30 people? I would ask you in a serious manner if YOU think the copmany would spend untold thousands of dollars hiring one of the most noted union busting law firm in the US for what…..30 people? One pro union guy told me today if they would give us that kind of money, we might just stop lol.i knew he was kidding. yoou use the term “overwhelimg” when yu mention those who oppose the union. All I have seen is maybe 10 people who stood in the doorway when the TV cameras came. Oh I see a few people who have that “Vote No’ sticker, but I would hardly call this “overhwelming”

    You call the charges “bogus.” maybe so, I cannot say. But I DO know that a Federal agency filed those charges, presumably after a throrough investigation. I will say one more thing then stop. The original sotry printed in the Asheville Times has now appeared in over 43 different newspapers or TV stations nationwide. NATION wide. Why is that do you think? Do you think 30 or less people could do that??????????You think ONE union could do that? Maybe you think ONE person could do that….

  5. Sam December 30, 2011

    Just wondering if the bathroom is really the issue and there are not enought toliets why not compain to Osha? Isn’t that what is for? Just saying…..

  6. Mtn_blue December 30, 2011

    You have the right to organize and collectively bargain your conditions of employment. Just like at the turn of the last century the company uses every opportunity to dissuade you in the exercise of your rights. Except now they have over a hundred years experience on how to do it.

    The company loves to have in house pigeons do the work for them. What these folks look like is all knowledgeable about what is going on. They seem to have facts about unions. They are getting to speak freely inside the building and out. They will promise all kinds of changes to the employees on behalf of the company, it will not be delivered or if it is delivered before the vote soon it will go away after the vote to not have a union.

    What happens is the company promises this person(s) something like higher pay or more days off, just think of anything. This person becomes the face of the opposition. You can recognize them, they are sell outs, brown nosers, etc. By the way after the vote to not have a union they are often fired first, because the company made them promises it does not want to keep. The next fired are just the brown nosers, who were not smart enough to get something for brown nosing.

    Think I am wrong?? Good luck to the brown nosers and sell outs.

    1. Bill December 30, 2011

      Dear Facts: That website is the most known anti union “blog” for lack of a better word, on the internet. You are getting “facts” you are getting packaged propoganda lol…..You really crack me up. Allof a suddne, everyne at Sitel is a “labor Expert” without EVER once having read any union’s constituion, by=laws, or even gone to the NLRB website. You are a Sitel stooge lol……

    2. bethechange January 1, 2012

      i have been to one of these meetings, im not hearing to much in the way of facts …but this is one of the ways that the company will streer you away, not just from a union but from any concerted activity taken by employees to address workplace issues…there is strength in numbers…and the NLRB doesnt just protect the right of union members.. but all workers,and thank god they do , it is so easy to dimiss the concerns of one person behind the closed door of a meeting in a office, but as you can gets much more attention when people come together.. have you noticed already the changes that mangement i making, finally addressing things we have all griped about for years, there are lights outside now, the computers in the ” relaxation room ” are being fixed so they all work , the mens room unrinal is fixed after being out of order for weeks, managers are coming by , talking with workers, addressing them by name , asking how they are when before they were nothing but invisable drones,…that is the power of many people speaking in one voice…that is the power of a union too. but the beauty is, no one can force you to join a union.. vote no

  7. Like my job December 28, 2011

    I work at Sitel i Make 8.75 an hour and i like my job and Sitel its a very unique community inside the building and would forever be chnaged by a union, i know go ahead call me a lemming or a plant but sitel like any workplace has its ups and downs, buts a workplace and the management does listen to our concerns, i signed the petition about the bathrooms and was never questioned about the petition or threatened in anyway, im the biggest rebel in the building and i understood the payrate when i entered the building and the benfits as well. where can you miss 8 days of work before you risk losing your job, sitel provides jobs to people that need them sometimes these people have been looking for work for a while and may even have trouble getting regular work in other forms of business although unfair due to handicaps or appearance sitel is a very diverse workplace and its like everyone is represented at sitel all lifestyles of the greater buncombe county area, some folks like it some dont and those that dont apply themselves leave for greener pastures. Unions have their place in the workforce but leave our little world alone we dont want you there and will never pay union ransom for our jobs, the workers of sitel at about a 95% ratio are without adoubt against unionization and are rather upset with the co-workers that placed this miss understood news in the media the petition was created as a voice to management not a union or anyone else …i could go on and on , for the union itself please leave us alone i think the over whelming show of support against the union and the bogus allegations brought forth today should speak loudly enough, do you want the workers of sitel to march on this issue cause im sure we could,

    1. Concernedatwork12 December 30, 2011

      as far as i can see, no union member has entered the building to spread any fear or misinformation,which union person has said one threathening word to anyone ? and as far the statement ” we dont want you here” i would have to say i didnt see an election take place , if there was one i missed it, what i have seen is a coworker given freedom to hand out non union stickers freely and misinform co workers that they will lose there job if they are pro-union, i have seen no one come there and actually be given the same time to answer to thses incredibe lies being given out in the form of small meetings, march away.. but march for something you are standing up for not laying down for…it takes 0 courage to go along with the crowd, and all the courage in the world to stand up for what you believe while all around you are trying to intimadte you .6 weeks ago all we heard was how people were being written up for saying a cuss words outside on their own time and break, being told they werent allowed to speak candidly about there work experiences in social media and written up for it if they did, we had no lights outside although there had been numerous injuries out there, but suddenly its come to someones attention the lights are insufficent, i submit to you that it is not any darker out there than it was two weeks ago or even two years ago.., i witness people who were saying that thy had to chose between getting gas to get to work or getting food at the end of the pay period, people taking butts out of ashrays because they didnt have any money left for a pack of smokes, they encourage low paid employees to give money to a food bank, becasue other low paid employees cant even afford to bring a lunch , but make no contribution to that charity at all…i have watched people with handicapps who dont get one of the primo parking spots in the back, struggle on oxgen,wheelchairs and canes to park in the marked handicapped spaces in front to walk up hill much more than the 250 feet that thier drs have to say they can only walk to even qualify for to get a handicapped sticker. i have watched people fired for 8 occuranes (absences) while others have 15 and are still there, i have seen people work for two years trying to move up into coach postions, by being assist agents ,and mentors , and a person who has the right friends get the job instead…you say bous allegation but do you have any idea at all what a charge of unfair labor practice is?or what this one actually alleges specifically, ? it is not a frivolous charge, it is only taken if a federal investator truly believes there may be a real problem, the federal goverment does just listen to any disgruntled complaint and take it seriously, before you spout off maybe getting some facts would help you …sitel employees do not even know what the charge is and are saying its bogus.they are simply repeatly they retoric they have been told by the people who have an agenda of one thing.. their bottom line can that be…the entire point is this…we want to improve the work can it be wrong to simply come togther and have a say in our own pay, work conditions, disapliary actions, firing practies, prmotions , benefits.. to be able to vote on what would also benefit the workers and not just the corporation they work for ?? you say why that wrong becasue i cant see it ,,.period ..if you are a happy be happy, dont join the union, if there is a vote vote no …its about democracy… and actualy the unions are about protecting just that right.. you have a say and it means something.. if its what you want , have your say alone .. and see nothing change .. or join in one voice and watch things change,the ironic thing is you non union people are organizing already, you are doing exactly what you are saying you are protesting, except for one difference, you will gain no benefit from it..expect maintaing the staus quo, ..and you will continue to have no say in your own work place and ill tell you just simply by virtue that there is an interest in a union, that site has woken up…its not dark outside any more…you dont speak for everyone, you are not the god of sitel .. if you dont want to help improve things then dont…we dont care… but as for me , when i see a wrong i have the courage to say its wrong, and even if it isnt me being unfarly treated i will speak for my fellow who is, if that isnt part of who you are , thats your choice…peace

    2. Heil Sitel December 30, 2011

      Dear Like:

      95% you say? Hmmm wonder how you arrived at that intriuging figure. By the way, how many union authorization cards have been signed so far? I am happy at work too. As the previous poster has already over stated, YOU don’t get todecide who wants who at Sitel. Just because YOU were not threatened certainly doesnt infer others were not. You have the logic of a pretzel lol,.

      I personally would LOVE to see “the workers of Sitel march against this issue” lol…

      Once again you are not and cannot be knowledgeble enough to know if the charges are bogus or not. you haven’t read them and if you had, you would notice the absence of any names of the involved parties. At any rate, it will now be in the hands of a fair system. You aren’t against it being JUDGED are you? Are you?

      Sitel very defintely provides jobs to those that need them. I am one of them and I am grateful for my job. I am also very GOOD at my job and I can assure you, I dont back upo when I get my check, I earn it.

      The absolute bottom line here is that YOOU have gotten all your information from ONE source: the company. You apparently lack either the courage or the intellectual honesty to do your own research. I refute your 95% figure and honestly, I believe I’m in a little better position than you to know…………

      At any rate, I respect your opinion 100%, even if I cannot respect how you arrived at it. I challenge you totry something that may be a litte scary to you…. Find one of us, we sure dont hide our sentiments. Atually have the courage to engage one of us about the issues, about what a union really is. We are always open and willing to llisten, even to those who oppose us. Yoou might even be able to put forth enogh argument to chnage some of our minds…….But that would require you to do your own thinking. Up for it?

    3. whoisthisguy? January 1, 2012

      there is some dude works in a campane I dont work in and noone knows what his job is. he dont take calls but he is logged on the phone. he sits at desk and does something all day but what? he acts like a coach and sure tries to make people think he is one but he is not. he will probaly get coach over people who take 40 class a day though. me I dont want a position I dont earn. Union gives peeps that been there the longest a priority i do know this much.

  8. SiHell December 27, 2011

    Monday morning and you can bet management will be printing these comments, circulating them among the Goons and Snitches trying to determine who has posted here…..

    1. all up hill December 27, 2011

      you mean tuesday…

      1. John_murphy January 1, 2012

        Happy New Year.

        My name is John Murphy and I am an IBEW Organizer. I have been following the posts and would like to try and clear the air on several important issues that are being misrepresented, possibly by accident or on purpose. Make your own call on that.

        First the bathroom petition and when and how I was contacted.
        I have rechecked my emails and phone records to make sure that what I report is accurate.
        As I understand it the bathroom petition was signed and given to management in early November. I had no contact with anyone from Sitel prior to the petition.

        At 8:38 AM on 11-29-2011 I received an email from the IBEW International Office in Washington DC. A Sitel worker had contacted the IBEW main office by email with their contact info and a short explanation of why they were interested in talking to an IBEW rep.
        I was on vacation at the time and did not respond by email, but called the worker at 11:33 AM on the same day and left a phone message.

        The Sitel worker returned my call on 12-1-11 at 7:46 PM and we spoke for a little less than 1 hr. This was the first time I had ever talked to a Sitel worker.

        So, the notion that the bathroom petition was a union trick to organize the call center was and is a lie.

        Also as I understand it the company is also telling people to be careful of going to the web site because they may be tricked into joining the union by registering on the site.
        Again, a lie.

        The web site was put together by to friends if mine, Bob Brock and Willy Kniffen. They are IBEW organizers working and living our west. The web site was created to provide call center workers with info on the law that gives you the right to organize the National Labor Relations Act and background about the IBEW as well.
        In no way shape or form is or will anyone be joining the IBEW by looking at the videos or joining the web site.

        The IBEW organizing policy is this:
        No Sitel worker (you) will be asked by anyone to join the IBEW or pay one red cent of union dues until they (you) have voted the union in and we have assisted you in negotiating a contract that the workers at Sitel vote on and accept.
        So here you have in writing the facts on Sitel workers being “tricked” in to joining the union. Again, lies and scare tactics that are common in organizing drives.

        In my opinion, the reason the company is making these very deceiving claims is they only want you the hear the company version of unions and their version if the law.

        I would also suggest that you visit the web site of the National Labor Relations Board. The Board is the Federal agency that is in charge of enforcing the Law that both the union and company are required to go by.
        Call the North Carolina office and ask any question you wish. I think you will find that the company may not be on the “up and up” with the slant they are putting out in the anti-union meetings.

        I would also like to address a posted by bethechange.
        A truly great post with many points that are right on.

        The power enact change is, has been and will always be with the people.
        Sitel employees have told me that management have started to pay attention and seem to be interested in addressing some of the outstanding concerns of the workers. And that’s a good thing.
        I am in total agreement with you on most of your points.

        Where we may disagree is long term effect of the workers sticking together with out the protection of the law.

        Currently Sitel feels pressure because of an active union drive. They are eager to address and resolve the issues to make this “pressure” go away.
        I suspect that without that pressure things will be back to business as usual in a short time.

        The main difference as with with a union the workers rights and conditions of employment are in writing and backed up by a legally binding contract that can be enforced by law.

        What the company agrees to do now with out a contract can change and/or be discounted at any time.

        To bethechange, again I really like your post and I hope that you and others like you will get additional information from the sources I listed and make a decision based facts from all sides.
        And then do what you feel is best for you and your families.

        Again, Happy New Year.

        John Murphy

        1. Thanks for that post John. My whole stance on this is that people have the absolute right to decide for themslves. Sitel is actively cultivating a climate of error, confusion and deception.

          They say “do your own research” but at the same time, tell people stuff like what you mentioned in those forced “anti union”meetings.

          So here is an honest question to all Sitel employees. if as many have said, only a TINY minorty of sitel workers have expressed an interest in a union, why is the company spending all this money to pay a “union busting” law firm? Why would the do that because of maybe 5% of the workforce? Look 10% of the workforce signed the bathroom peition and Sitel did not even rpsond for several days.

          My opinion is that Sitel is VERY afraid that if we find out the honest facts about union representation, most people would have a hard time saying it was a BAD thing. That and the fact that people are being scared into thinking they will lose their jobs and their rights.

          Look, say anything you want about a union, but please..if you want to have a single shred of credibility, take Sitel’s advice:

          Get the facts only not from Sitel lol….please.

          One more thing. Just because someone is pro union doesnt make them an enemy of Sitel ok?

        2. bethechange January 1, 2012

          John i absolutley agree that all the love would not continue if the pressure of having the workers form a union disappeared, my understanding was that even the petition was an act that was protected under the law, i do have more to learn and more questions, i know one thing..this is the most i have ever seen this company do in such a short time…and i for one would like to have a say in how my workplace is run, one of the pro union people asked me if i would ever agree to be in a relationship where the other person had complete and total say in every area , and i said why would i want to work that way ?? it was a good question,i have worked in call centers a lot of years, i always wished call centers had unions, now that i found out they do im excited about it , and my understanding is a lot of them are unionized now too , it was done successfully and they are still right there where they started , didnt close down and kept on going…so yes i want to learn more about it ! thanks and happy new year to you too

          1. John_murphy January 2, 2012

            John Murphy again.

            After my post yesterday I was contacted by a Sitel worker who shared additional info with me on what the company is saying to keep the work force away from any information other than the anti-union message in the forced meetings.

            According the the worker who called me, the company has said that if you go to the site click on to view or register you are signing a petition.
            Again, a huge lie.
            In no way, shape or form will you be agreeing to a petition for a vote by visiting the web site, watching the viedos or joining the site.
            One more time, a huge lie.

            Here is how it really works if you want to have union representation and have the NLRB conduct an election.

            I have 31/2 by 5 inch index cards that say;

            Authorization for Representation
            I authorize a local union of the IBEW to represent me in collective bargaining with my employer.
            There are spaces for name, address, email and other contact information as well as signature and date space on the card.

            By signing this card you are doing exactly what it says. You are giving consent for the IBEW to represent you.
            You are NOT joining the IBEW.
            As long as we have possession of the cards, the IBEW policy is if contacted by the card singer and they request the card be returned to them we will do so.

            We use there cards to track the level of interest and when we reach around a 65% we would then contact the NLRB to file a Petition to have them conduct an election.
            We send to the NLRB the cards as proof of interest.

            The IBEW never gives the cards or notifies the employer of who has signed the cards. Never.

            As you can see the company will go to great lengths to keep its employees from hearing the “other side of the coin”.

            Wonder why they are so afraid of the power of knowledge?

            In my earlier post I suggested that Sitel workers visit the NLRB web page for information. And that is still a good idea.
            However, the Board has agents that are available and answer any questions regarding what the law really is.

            The phone number for the NLRB Winston-Salem office is (336) 631-5201.

            Call and see just how far Sitel will go to keep you in the dark. I think when you learn the truth you will be at least disappointed and maybe angry.

            Don’t listen to the “union guy”. Call the Board and find out for yourself.

        3. Who Needs A Damn Union January 1, 2012

          I cannot really speak for anyone else but the reason I am FOR a union is because of my personal expereince with Sitel mangement. Anyone who is honest and has been there for say 90 days or more will have to admit that people are treated very differently based on such thigs as whetre or not their direct supervisor likes them, OK so this goes on everywhere maybe. but when YOU site next to a person who has just told you “I am on my 12th occurence” when the company policy says after 8 you will be terminated, and YOU just got busted for calling off work for whatever reason, it kind of makes you mad. I mean if it doesn’t make you mad, Fine. keep your head stuck in the sand. I don’t like it that Sitel mangement can give you a written warning and threaten your job based ONLY on the fact that another employee was “offended” that you made a post on Facebook that was not all “I LOVE SITEL”

          I dont like it that though EVERYONE who has a cell phone and a huge number of employees DO use them at their desk against company policy, SOME employees are dsicplined and SOME employees are not. To me a UNION means everyone wil get fair, equal treatment. it kind of makes ME feel guilty to know one of my co workers is on a “final written wanring” for something i myself may have done and got caught and got away with because maybe my “numbers” are good.

          Look if this doesn’t bother you, fine by me. Maybe you are “in good” and some of us aren’t. Good for you. Me, I want to be graded only on my personal performance and nothing else. Isn’t that fair? Hey if I ever lost my job because I was not doing it right, I might be mad but it would be a FAIR decision.

          But I have seen more than enough to convince me that maybe, just maybe….there MIGHT be an unwritten standard at Sitel. of course in NC you can get fired for any reason or no reason at any time. The handbook says the same thing. But I would rather be told “Look we just dont want you here.” than to have someone try to “buid a case” to fire me and do it underhandedly.

          It really IS about dignity. Dginity isn’t something someone ELSE gives you, it is something you command.

  9. John_murphy December 26, 2011

    my name is john murphy and i am one of the ibew union organizers helping the sitel workers.
    my email is; [email protected]
    josh rhodes is a local 238 organizer as well and he can be contacted at: [email protected]

    the people we have spoken with at sitel are interested in learning more about their right to organize under a federal law called the national labor relations act or nlra.
    there is a huge misconception that because north carolina is a “right to work” state you can’t be union. WRONG. you can and thousands are already.

    there is a great web site; that was put together by my friends willy kniffin and bob brock that gives a lot of great factual information and it is in plain english, not legalese.

    check it out or call me at (252) 414 7388 or josh at (828) 702-6808.

    all calls are confidential.

  10. Occupy Sitel December 26, 2011

    based on its own data, Sitel has hired 7,000 people to fill a few hundred jobs. They burn through people like cord wood.

    1. Matt January 2, 2012

      Yes. I was hired on a new campaign in which they had trained 150 people and still only had 30 workers, and that’s all under a year. The attrition rate is higher there than I’ve seen at any other job I’ve had.

  11. JML December 25, 2011

    Its screwed up that the minimum wage is so low that these people cant even eat lunch, but we have TONS of money to dress our cops like storm troopers

  12. devalued December 25, 2011

    this is the kindof things that having a union can protect workers from …these truly are white collar sweat shops… and the managment counts on you having no clue that you have any rights, but even if you did in a right to work state, they are much … once in a union you are no longer a right to work this type economy unions are the only way to protect workers, it is becoming almost as economically sound to have american workers in these call centers as it is to have those from develpoing countries do the jobs…for employers it is a buyers market.. and the value of the american worker is going down

  13. Ashevillelokel December 25, 2011

    Our tax dollars are being used as incentive “to create jobs” out at the arvato digital services call center …. sounds like a great business to be in …. “creating” minimum wage jobs, with no benefits and a “nazi-esque” management style … and then being rewarded by the government (both local, state and federal) for these sh!tty jobs.

    Meanwhile the layoffs continue at the plant and they are replacing those who were laid off with temporary workers …. which should be illegal. Some of those “temporary” workers have been working there for years.

    1. Matt December 25, 2011

      I worked at Sitel in 2010. It was easily the worst employment experience of my life. I have been working at Arvato since April, and it might be the best. Very clean facility, better benefits, family atmosphere, better pay. There have been scores of joyous Sitel defectors at Arvato. Please don’t lump the two together. They are like night and day.

      Arvato laid off the factory workers who were making CD’s because…well…there weren’t any more CD’s to be made. Everyone has known that’s a dying business for years. The company has retooled and is moving in a new direction, in an industry for which the wages are unfortunately competitively lower.

      Please, don’t be another yahoo mindlessly yammering on about Arvato to your own ends. It’s a good company that treats its employees with respect.

      1. Bill December 25, 2011

        Matt. Thanks for weghing in. In your estimation, do you think the commenters here are being truthful about Sitel?

        1. Matt January 2, 2012

          Sitel was a pretty rough work environment. Both bathrooms worked when I was there, but that place is the size of a football field and you really have to make your choice if you’re taking a few minutes of personal time to use the restroom. Everything in there is old an kind of scuzzy, there is no security, so half the employees are violating the cellphone policy on a regular basis. They do not run a very good call center, so the clients they have are all low-end. I will try to avoid getting into my personal conflict with the company, but when they let me go despite being one of their best agents, they fought my unemployment claim and I went without that meager sum for a few months rather than deal with them.

          Regarding the handicapped parking spaces, that’s more of an issue with the landlord, but the landlord doesn’t understand how the world works, either. They have a ton of parking spaces in front of Sitel that remain continually empty in hopes that a storefront that attracts shoppers will move in there. All of the handicapped spaces out front are over a hundred feet and downhill from the entrance, and no one is allowed to park in the spaces directly in front of the door per landlord orders. If you know how SSDI works, the government will fight you on it if you can work in a call center. So, people who are barely functional to do work are being made to work in conditions were they have to trek in to the building and use a bathroom a football field away, just so that they can earn a paycheck smaller than what SSDI would pay them were there no such thing as call centers. It’s a third-world setting.

          1. Bill January 2, 2012

            Good post Matt, and I think very accurate.Those of us who favor a workplace democracy at Sitel have been hearing these sort of things for months, and more. I am not surprised Sitel would fight you on unemployment because there is no question, Sitel is greedy and cheap and I believe, exploitive.

            Like others have said, Sitel does hire a lot of people who might not be able to work elsewhere, but in my opinion, this is not done outof any “noble” motive. Desparate people don’t complain much.

            When you consider that in 2011, according to the National Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the avergae wage for a call cneter agent for a company like Sitel was $12.23 an hour, it ought to make you stop and think.

            In fact the employees of at least one of Sitels’ main accounts earn close to $17.00 an hour to do the exact job WE do for the clinet. BECA– — USE THEY ARE IN A UNION.

            Know what else? These employees actually support our efforts at Sitel. More on that maybe in the future…..

  14. all uphill December 25, 2011

    there are several rows of handicapped spaces in front, wayyyy more than 250 feet from an enterance and all uphill from the parking lot to the door, HR said its the landlords fault. ??

  15. fed Up December 25, 2011

    LOL. I love it. Its about time someone put the spotlight on these people.

  16. Heil Sitel December 24, 2011

    It is true. They pulled all of us into 15 minute “anit-union” meetings just last week. Jean Harmon is the site manager and is famous for her “melt downs” and abusive behavior towards underlings. There are a LOT of handicapped and disabled people who work there who really probably could not get a job somewhere else, but it is hard to watch them have NO dignity. They finally put outside lights up in back after numerous complaints and last year, one older gentleman slipped and fell on black ice in the dark trying to make it to his car. He actually had to call inside on his cell phone because he could not get up.

    Sitel always sets up shop in economically depressed areas and third world countries so they can exploit the labor population.This company made 1.3 BILLION in 2010. White collar sweatshop. Oh yeah you don’t get any paid time off until after six months and they will fire you if you exceed a certain number of absences, regardless of whether or not you have valid medical evidence. They will also fire you if you take too many “breaks” from being on the phone.

    I hope we DO get a union.. A living wage in Asheville is $11.63 an hour. The company is currently being sued under a class action lawsuit in the US for making/allowing people to work off the clock before and after they punch in or out……….

  17. humiliated December 24, 2011

    I happened to be one of the women with moblilty issues who daily has to make a choice when faced with waiting in a line of often 3 or 4 women to use the bathroom nearest me and nearest the outdoor break area, or walk what i am guessing is a 1/2 city block to the other side of the building to use the facility for women that have several stalls. the site director gave the explaination for the change : We became aware that there few too few water closets per men in the building and that the bathrooms were not in compliance with laws, she assured this would be temporary. After the petition they stated it was a challenge because of expense and shutting down the bathroom for repairs i wonder if any one in management has faced the challenge of someone like myself, those of us who have to choose between being late on our break time which is measured and timed on a percentage and being written up , or to hold the need to urinate for another 1 to 1 and1/2 hours,to try again to use the bathroom. Temporary?? keep the bathroom closed for months and months and do nothing, or close it a few days and solve it, as for expense this is a billion dollar company .


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