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The sales reps are placed by management along the cubicle aisles. The placement system is called "nesting." Our surroundings on the floor are a highly orchestrated arrangement executed with military precision - with lots of potential for psychological torment. For example, right from the start I was surrounded by staff who spoke ghetto-slang and I opined that they were getting easy sales calls from high income customers residing in affluent zip codes. Because these favored employees were each taking home between $1000 and $3000 dollar commission checks each month, they formed a sort of camaraderie, calling themselves the "heavy hitters" and repeatedly cracking jokes about how they would quit this job once it started to "feel like work."

I sat surrounded by agents who were being allowed to earn thousands of dollars more than me each month, and it was apparently done artificially under the pretense that we were somehow in "competition" with each other. But the managers were seemingly just rigging the call distribution system to ensure a favored rep's success while crashing all chance I had to succeed. These were faked-races, in my opinion, designed to humiliate employees and inflict psychological, as well as financial, harm. All under the auspices of AT&T. And congress has passed laws to keep this form of torture legal.

I was enduring this undercover just to get the story, but I sat there and watched all the other discriminated against workers, especially the older and unattractive reps, who were literally fretting over how they'd pay for their next car repair. Buses out to this place are rare, and bus service ends in early evening. These people needed cars to get there, but were earning too little to maintain the car. They worked under the pressure of an hourglass knowing it was just a matter of time, and they simply hoped the managers would keep them off the "minimum pay" list. They're stuck in a sales job that seemed to rig competition between workers. They took the job with assurance of a fair chance to earn monthly commission pay but then were in my opinion singled out to receive just enough sales to disqualify them from the commission. They instead ended up taking home a base pay of around $8 an hour.

The favored employees who were being allowed to take home thousands per month would taunt nearby co-workers in subtle ways each day knowing nothing would be done to stop it. One of the irritating things they engaged in was to continually ask for each other's tally of sales throughout the day, always double or triple what the discriminated-against workers had. They'd dig in to nearby "losers" who were trying to get by on near minimum wage pay. The "heavy hitters" used passive-aggressive ghetto slang to describe how they were snorting their pay with the homeys as they spoke over us to each other. I asked to have my workstation moved to another aisle. Management wouldn't respond. I sent emails to supervisors describing the hostile working conditions and there was never a response. When I approached management directly they'd just reply with the same line, as if reciting a script: "So why don't you find another job?" I just bit my lip and held back the answer: "BECAUSE I'M GATHERING INFORMATION WITH WHICH TO OUT YOU TO THOUSANDS OF VISITORS TO MY WEBSITE YOU DUMB PROLE!"

On the other hand, whenever one of the artificially high-commissioned reps got into a disagreement with a neighboring co-worker, it seemed their request to move to a different spot was granted right away. For the entire time I was there I was ordered to sit at a location that appeared to be surrounded mostly by hi-paid reps who were spoon-fed easy sales calls.

I'd been singled out for what is called the triple standard. One standard for the favored reps, who are allowed to accumulate thousands of dollars in sales per month. A second "double" standard for the unfavored reps, who are seemingly strung along by a management that arranged for them to earn a few hundred dollars extra on some months, just enough to keep them from quitting. And then there's the triple standard: workers singled out for the management's abusive amusement. These reps are flagrantly shown the computerized system's ability to discriminate against them. Seems like that tactic is used to stress the reps endurance to a breaking point, upon which the dominator management bids for the thrill of provoking an outburst from the employee and then firing them for "misconduct." As I say, it seemed like some sureal psycho-sport to me. When the fired workers try to collect unemployment benefits while searching for another job, they confront New York State Dept. of Labor laws (written by affluent corporation-friendly legislators) that take into consideration exclusively the company's right to define "misconduct." Sales reps are flagrantly provoked to speak out at AT&T and then any expression of anger provides managers with cause to accuse the worker of "misconduct."

To witness the abuse meted out to "triple standard" staff was nightmarish. And now management had me on that list! I wasn't to learn just why I'd been singled out. I'd taken care to stay quiet and anonymous. Rarely did I speak with any workers there except for immediate supervisors. No one knew about my work history with the Hendrix company, nor about my writing and music careers. I intentionally kept an extremely low profile. I was undercover and careful to make no waves. But from the patterns of discrimination I saw there, I formed an opinion that I was among those targeted because we are over 40 years of age. It seemed to me that the company just didn't regard us as having a future with them, so they kept us, artificially it seems to me, from earning the type of pay from sales that we were experienced enough to earn had we been in a non-rigged competition. To me, we were being asked to sit there and see ghetto kids spoon-fed easy sales while we were flooded with callers who couldn't buy anything. In my opinion, AT&T practices extreme discrimination and fraud against employees in the workplace.

Other twists and tortures of this job include enticements called "perfect attendance" and "efficiency" bonus pay. To qualify for this bonus pay, a worker can miss no more than four minutes of scheduled work time per month. The trick is that these minutes are calculated by logging onto the computerized AT&T system. When a rep takes a break, especially at the end of a shift, and leaves their cubicle for any reason (like a restroom visit), a supervisor then walks by the unattended desk and disconnects their phone line. Two months later, when the "perfect attendance" payout doesn't show up in the employee's paycheck, they're shown a computer screen that indicates there are "five minutes" missing from that day two months ago (when they went to the restroom and someone logged off their phone line). Now they've missed too much time to qualify for the bonus payout. This was standard practice that prevented unfavored employees from collecting that bonus for most months, in my opinion.

The other common tactic is for supervisors to call a team meeting and have reps put their phones in "break status." While we're in the meeting, a member of management visits our empty desk and logs off the phone. Two months later on bonus pay day, another inquiry with the supervisor shows missing time. No bonus.

"Efficiency" is the other carrot-on-a-stick scheme used to cheat workers out of a monthly bonus. A complex formula is used to calculate the number of minutes that each rep is at their desk and taking calls. Anytime the employee has to dial a number to place a call to another department, or to call back a customer who leaves a voice mail, these "outbound calls" decrease one's efficiency score. A score below 85% disqualifies workers from receiving the efficiency bonus, but how that 85% is calculated is entirely up to management, which apparently maintains an arsenal of tricks with which to artificially plummet one's "score."

One trick is, during a call, the sales rep is required to run a credit check on a customer. People with bad credit are flagged on the computer screens and the rep then has to dial an outgoing call to the credit review department. The waiting time to get through to this department can run 30 minutes or more, meaning it's time spent decreasing our "efficiency rates." Reps who get a lot of these credit-challenged callers end up with monthly scores below 85 percent, meaning no efficiency bonus for that month, thanks to the ROC's database profiling that routes bad-credit callers to the phone of staff that management dislikes, seeme to me. In my case, managers apparently liked to demonstrate the surgical precision with which they can pre-determine what a worker's monthly score will be, because whereas an 85% score qualifies us for bonus pay, my score seemed to be kept (artificially) at around 84.5%. In other words, "We'll show you who's boss…"

Double and triple standard reps get loads of calls that require credit review and thus end up losing "efficiency bonus" for reasons totally out of our control. And we'd be surrounded by staff that managers like, who're allowed to "qualify" for efficiency bonus, on top of the two or three thousand dollars commision pay. The only difference in our work was that managers fed them most all of the easy calls. To me, it's rigged competition, an artificially orchestrated skewed database for fraudulent management practices. And it's all legal, thanks to the millionaire men who buy their way into state legislatures and pass laws that allow companies to manipulate their call center databases to blatantly discriminate against non-favored workers. But it seems AT&T goes way beyond simple violation of fairness. In my opinion, the management there uses these laws to develop elaborate games aimed to "legally" abuse workers for the amusement of supervisors.

During my inquiries to attorneys of employment law about this situation I was amazed to find that corporations have lobbied for a hands-off policy by government so the companies can stack their databases to favor any worker that they want to pay more to. But they're doing this under a pretense of competition between sales reps. It seems to me common sense that this is fraudulent. AT&T, in my opinion, uses corporate mass media to prevent reports about this situation from reaching voters in the U.S. The entire rigged system is invisible.

The computer programs used to filter incoming calls and surgically channel high probability sales calls to attractive workers, this programming is done by I.T. technicians. In other words, there are tens, if not hundreds of thousands of these technicians out there who are fully aware of what their programming is intended to accomplish. And they remain invisible, silent, compliant, and complicit. Not one of them volunteers to blow the whistle, and even if they do, the bought-off and controlled/censored mass media of these corporations simply kills the story. Some crooked editor is paid to make a case that we can't prove how competition is rigged in the call centers and few people are interested in the issue. The result is, most Americans are unaware of the situation. A huge pool of workers are living with this practice daily yet nothing is appearing on the internet about it. That's a really ominous and frightening fact.

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