Purple Retaliation against Union Votes
Purple Communications announcing the closure of two call centers, Denver, CO and Corona CA. have pushed interpreters to consider the announcements of past call center closing. In the past few years, the following Purple Call Centers has been shut down, San Diego CA, Oakland, CA, Arizona and Long Beach, CA. Almost all of these call centers voted to become fully unionized as ASLIU (ASL Interpreters United) under Pacific Media Workers Guild, TNG-CWA LOCAL 39521 branch. There has been implications that Purple had made the decision to close all of those call centers just to avoid negotiating with ASLIU.
Long Beach Call Center has reopened after being closed for 366 days in avoidance of hiring highest seniority rated interpreter and opened with offers of much lower wages. Long Beach interpreters had to make a choice, accept much lower pay rate for their skills or not.
Denver has been in battle with Purple Communications for a while, meanwhile Corona interpreters has several legal issues on going with Purple Communication. Purple is making this decision after wasting several thousands of dollars on high priced lawyers to have a dialogue with ASLIU and not making any concessions possible for the interpreters currently working for Purple. There have been reports of low quality health care, mistreatment on staff and penalty for using team interpreters to list a few issues within the call center.
The NLRB, National Labor Relations Board, went on to sue Purple Communications due to several things including the ability for employees to use work emails to organize a union; and won, citing the testimony of four Interpreters from the Corona and Long Beach call centers, two of which have since been fired from Purple, one who there was an attempted firing and the union fought for them to keep their job and one other interpreter.
The closure of Corona was a complete surprise to the interpreters because Corona interpreters stated that they (Corona) are about 17% percent of total workforce for Purple. An interpreter from the Corona call center stated that the center manager has done absolutely nothing and she still hasn’t addressed it with people. “Apparently she was in our break room for anyone that wanted to talk.” She sent an email not too long ago and said, “I wanted to whole heartedly express my deepest love to all of you as we face the recent news together.” (Anonymous Call Center interpreter)
On January 31, 2018 Pacific Media Workers Guild published an article stating that purple/zvrs wanted a separate contract for community interpreters vs call center interpreters. This left a big question by interpreters, are Purple/ZVRS moving forward with at-home VRS to avoid being “governed by the labor agreement” for VRS interpreters that do work at home as well as unionization.
“Purple/ZVRS company officials want two workforces: those who do VRS work and those who do community work. The reason they want to do that is so they can say that community work is not governed by the labor agreement, giving the Company all discretion in assigning and disciplining within that realm. They also argue that if someone does community work and engages in gross misconduct, the company should be able to fire that employee from ALL work, even the VRS work.” (Pacific Media Workers Guild)
It has also been shared that if a Video Relay Interpreter has been with Purple for over three years, they have to re-apply for the several position, such as At-Home VRS, or Community work, Purple is not allowing any seniority in the re-hiring process at all.