NATIONWIDE – AT&T workers, members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), have given company executives until Friday, May 19 at 3PM ET to present serious proposals that invest in good jobs with a future. If AT&T officials refuse to negotiate fairly, workers will walk off the job in a three-day strike. Many AT&T wireless workers across 36 states and DC will join picket lines, as will wireline workers in California, Nevada, and Connecticut, and DIRECTV technicians across California and Nevada. This would be the first time AT&T Mobility workers go on strike, potentially disrupting a large number of retail stores across the country this weekend.
After months of talks, frustration is higher than ever as corporate executives continue their stand-off with workers over major issues that protect middle-class jobs, such as affordable benefits, fair wages and job security. Workers are also protesting AT&T’s pervasive outsourcing of jobs to low-wage contractors, which eliminates good jobs and hurts customer service. While a three-day strike may inconvenience customers in the short term, AT&T workers are committed to putting an end to unnecessary frustration and poor service because of AT&T’s lack of investment in its core business.
“The clock is ticking for AT&T to make good on their promise to preserve family-supporting jobs for more than 40,000 workers,” said Dennis Trainor, Vice President of CWA District 1. “We have made every effort to bargain in good faith with AT&T, but have only been met with delays and excuses. Now, AT&T is facing the possibility of closed stores for the first time ever. Our demands are clear and have been for months: fair contract or strike. It’s now in AT&T’s hands to stand with workers or at 3pm Eastern Time on Friday workers will be off the job and onto picket lines across the country.”
Around the country, workers are protesting in front of wireless retail stores and call centers to prepare for the potential strike. Despite being the largest telecom company in the country and bringing in nearly $1 billion a month in profits, AT&T continues to overpromise and underdeliver to U.S. communities and customers by offshoring, outsourcing, and failing to invest in its core business and infrastructure.
“Enough is enough. AT&T’s bargaining tactics show their lack of respect for the very workers who help them make their billions,” said Cheryce Chambers, a wireless retail worker in the Bronx, New York. “We are drawing a line in the sand: come to the bargaining table with the long overdue proposals that families need, or me and my co-workers will walk off the job. Striking is never an easy choice, but my neighbors, my son and my community deserve better. If it becomes necessary, I’ll be out on the picket line to show AT&T their greed stands no chance next to our determination.”
As AT&T comes under fire at the bargaining table for offshoring thousands of jobs, workers are rallying around new federal legislation that would penalize companies like AT&T who offshore call center jobs. Since 2011, AT&T has eliminated 12,000 call center jobs in the U.S., closing and downsizing call centers across the country. Rather than keeping those good-paying jobs here at home, AT&T has contracted with third party vendors operating in countries with low wages and weak labor protections.
A recent report from CWA shed new light on AT&T’s sprawling web of 38 third-party call centers in eight countries that are driving low wages and compromising quality service for millions of AT&T customers. AT&T workers and CWA representatives met with call center vendor employees in the Dominican Republic earlier this month to learn more about what has happened to the jobs AT&T has shipped overseas and the anti-union backlash facing Dominican workers who attempt to improve conditions.
In late March, 17,000 AT&T wireline workers in California and Nevada went on strike to protest the company’s changing of working conditions in violation of federal law. The strike ended when the workers won an agreement with the company that will no longer require employees to do work outside of their expertise and classification.