PROVIDENCE, R.I.--A telephone operators' union has filed a grievance against New England Telephone Co. charging the new policy of stating the operator's first name to personalize directory assistance opens operators to increased sexual harassment from callers.
Marion Hoegen, the local agent for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, said yesterday the number of abusive calls has "increased immensely" since the telephone company initiated the first-name procedure December 10 in Rhode Island and the four other New England states it serves.
"There are suggestive question calls that we regard as sexual harassment, and we certainly don't want to take more of them by giving out a name," Hoegan said.
William H. Kelley, assistant general manager of Bell's Rhode Island office, said yesterday the operators have the option of not using their real first name, to help protect their privacy. Many operators said they like the new system, he said.