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Re: [TowerTalk] - Cell Tower Broadcast

Subject: Re: [TowerTalk] - Cell Tower Broadcast
From: Jim Lux <>
Date: Mon, 28 May 2012 07:21:18 -0700
List-post: <">>
On 5/28/12 7:01 AM, W0MU Mike Fatchett wrote:
> Accidents are accidents and no amount of government involvement,
> oversight, regulation, etc. is going to stop accidents from happening.
> Some jobs like tower climbing are inherently dangerous.  Regulations and
> an OSHA guy on the ground can't stop a guy from making a mistake on a
> tower that ultimately results in an accident.  Most of us have all had
> an "whoops" moment where we put ourselves in a very bad place or did
> something very dumb.  Most of us lived to tell about it, others did not.
> Industry should work within itself to make the jobs as safe as possible
> and not rely on governments to do it for them.

keeping this amateur tower specific..

I would agree that the government doesn't really have a place in what 
you do with your own self. If you want to climb your tower naked, have 
at it. If you want to climb using appropriate gear, have at it.

However, when it comes to employment, that's another story.  History is 
full of examples where the unequal bargaining power of employer and 
employee lead to bad outcomes.

Triangle Shirtwaist is a notable example, but in more recent years, we 
have the poultry processing plants with emergency exits chained shut and 
the like.

Particularly in economically depressed times/regions, employers have a 
lot of power over employees: any job is better than no job. The reason 
that that things like OSHA and MSHA exist is precisely because someone 
*big* needs to look out for the worker, because the worker is not in a 
place to negotiate.  "Get up that tower, monkey, and don't give me no 
guff about harnesses.  If you don't like it, there's 10 other guys ready 
to do it."

Yes, there are excesses and foolishness.  As they say, anecdotes make 
bad regulation, but there is a tendency when something spectacular 
occurs, "something must be done", so another rule gets piled on the stack.

The real issue here, with the tower contractors, is that there's enough 
levels of subcontracting that the ultimate driver of the schedules and 
costs doesn't feel the pain.  Just as big employer has "market power" 
over individual employee, big AT&T company has market power over small 
tower contractors.

I don't necessarily think that the AT&Ts of the world are evil in this, 
but the next tier down doesn't have the guts to tell AT&T, no, we cannot 
do the job that cheaply or fast.  I am SURE that at some point we've all 
been in the situation where someone else promised something would be 
done faster than reasonable, and we just pitched in and got-er-done. 
The abuse happens when that becomes a regular practice.

This is different than the ag labor contractor/sub contractor situation, 
where often, the contractor is specifically there to insulate the farm 
owner from immigration and workforce protection laws. A layer of 
"plausible deniability", if you will.  Oh no, I never hired those 
workers for $4/hr.. my contractor assures me he's paying minimum wage, 
and he just finds guys that can pick fruit twice as fast as anyone else 
in history.

In the ag business, it was unionization (UFW) that finally stopped the 
biggest abuses.  Sadly, like in many cases, the union then kind of went 
off the rails over time, after they had won the legislative battles to 
ban the most abusive practices, they had to find another dragon to battle.

Somehow, I don't see a big unionization effort happening for tower 
climbers.  The foolish kids doing it for $10/hr don't last ( they tire 
out or die), and the pros making substantially more don't need it.  As 
has been pointed out several times.. the kind of tower worker one hires 
for commercial radio or your ham antenna is really a different category 
than the "let's put up 1000 cell sites in 100 days" kind of worker.


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