Consumer Coalition Unites to Oppose SB 1161

California Coalition for Universal Service forms to fight phone deregulation

For Immediate Release From the California Coalition for Universal Service

Monday, April 16, 2011, Sacramento—A coalition of over 40 consumer groups, labor unions and advocates for disadvantaged communities will challenge phone-company sponsored SB 1161 (Padilla) at a Senate Committee hearing on Tuesday. Phone companies and tech giants including Microsoft and Skype have launched a massive lobbying effort in support of the bill, which would eliminate the few remaining consumer protections available to phone customers.   AT&T has muscled similar legislation through over 20 states already, but a coalition of labor and consumer groups were able defeat a similar plan in New York.

Without regulation, monopoly phone companies would be free to price out customers they don’t find profitable enough, and run roughshod over consumer rights, with no fear of fines or sanctions.  Consumers with complaints about their phone service or phone bill would literally have nowhere to turn, and long-standing universal service obligations could be quashed.   The newly formed California Coalition for Universal Service is spearheading broad-based opposition to the bill.

“The health and economy of our state are best served by requirements that every single Californian has access to phone service,” said Mark Toney, executive director of TURN.  “The public has absolutely nothing to gain, and everything to lose, when basic consumer protections are eliminated.”

“With technological advances in phone service coming fast and furious, the California PUC must have the latitude and authority to insure quality of service, and the availability of reliable telephone service to every consumer in the state,” said Jim Weitkamp, Vice President Communications Workers of America (CWA).

Advocates and community leaders will face off against corporate lobbyists in the Senate Energy, Utilities and Commerce Committee, April 17 9:30 a.m., State Capitol Room 3191

The Consumer Coalition for Phone Company Accountability includes:

    Consumer & Labor Organizations

  • Communications Workers of America
  • AARP
  • Consumer Federation of California
  • Consumers Union
  • Cal PIRG
  • Public Citizen
  • Utility Consumers Action Network
  • The Utility Reform Network
    Underserved Communities

  • Instituto de Educacion Popular del Sur de California
  • Hmong American Political Association
  • Center for Accessible Technology
  • West Angeles Community Development Corporation
  • LIFETIME
  • Public Counsel
  • Central City SRO Collaborative
  • Tenderloin Neighborhood Development
  • Tenderloin Housing Clinic
  • Brightline Defense Project
    Faith–Based Communities

  • Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement
  • African American Lutheran Association
  • Allen Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church
  • Faith Temple Apostolic Church
  • Inland Congregations United for Change
  • Inland Empire Concerned African American Churches
  • Imani Temple Church
    Media Access Projects

  • National Hispanic Media Coalition
  • Broadband Institute of California
  • California Broadband Policy Group
  • Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
  • Center for Media Justice
  • Free Press
  • Davis Media Access
  • Media Alliance
    Child/Family Support Projects

  • Centro la Familia
  • BLU Educational Services
  • Knotts Family Agency
  • Parents and Communities Engaged for Education
  • Talented & Gifted in the Inland Empire
  • Young Visionaries
  • Lighthouse Learning Resource Center
    Rural Community Advocates

  • Center for Rural Strategies
  • Access Humboldt
  • Mendocino County Board of Supervisors
    Small Business Community

  • Greenlining Institute
  • Asian American Business Woman’s Association
  • Anew America Community Corporation