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A Message About Long-Distance Proposal

July 03, 1994

As someone who's devoted years to the telecommunications industry, I am writing to clarify information that accompanied your story on Pacific Bell and in-state long-distance service ("Reaching Out," June 19).

Your article implies that Assembly Bill 3720, which would allow Pacific Bell to compete in the long-distance market, is merely being "pitched" as a jobs bill. Considering that the Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO, is the principal co-sponsor of this bill--a detail that was omitted from the article--you can be sure that we believe jobs will be protected and created.

Although you correctly point out that Pacific Bell has proposed long-distance rates that will be a minimum of 20% lower than those of its competitors, you then dismiss the argument by saying opponents claim that rates will fall only temporarily and then rise about 9%. Even if that were true, and there is no evidence for that statement, wouldn't that still be a welcome rate decrease of 11% for consumers?

Most important, jobs will be created under AB 3720. Opponents again claim that jobs will merely shift to Pacific Bell from smaller long-distance carriers who, presumably, would be driven out of business by Pacific Bell's low rates. Even if that is true, which it's not, the question is rightly: Just who exactly should benefit from AB 3720, the phone industry or the California consumer?

Finally, the bill's language was specifically designed to ensure that all competitors have fair, non-discriminatory and mutually open access to exchange and inter-exchange facilities, through the implementation of strict consumer safeguards. It also specifically prohibits anti-competitive behavior involving unfair use of subscriber information or customer contact. AB 3720, in other words, strives to level the playing field for all competitors, both local and long-distance, and that is the true and proper role of this legislation.

The bottom line is that California's largest employer is attempting to create jobs and offer customers more long-distance choices at lower costs. That's why CWA co-sponsored AB 3720 and is pleased to be joined by scores of consumer, labor and business organizations who also support our efforts.


Legislative coordinator

Communications Workers of America


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