As AT&T releases Q4 earnings, CWA denounces ongoing layoffs, slashing of 11,000+ jobs since tax cut

AT&T reported net profits of $19.4 billion for 2018 and is projecting free cash flow of $26 billion for 2019. The company sees steady growth in all its business units and increased profitability in wireless. Despite these strong results the company is making deep cuts in its workforce. Today's report shows that AT&T has eliminated 11,780 jobs in 2018 alone (see table below). AT&T is also on track to pay out three-quarters of its 2018 profits to shareholders in the form of dividends and share buybacks.

Members of the Communications Workers of America, who are bargaining with the company for a new contract in the Midwest and Legacy T units, have serious concerns about the company's gutting of good, family-supporting jobs.

A new survey this month from the National Association for Business Economics finds that 84% of American companies have not invested their windfall from tax bill in hiring or investment plans and CWA has called on Congress to investigate how AT&T and other corporations are spending the massive tax cuts they received from the 2018 Tax Cut and Jobs Act. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has clearly not fulfilled his promise to spend at least $1 billion in tax savings toward creating "7,000 good jobs for the middle class.

"Two things are clear from today's AT&T report. AT&T continues to earn astronomical profits and those profits are not being invested in the communities that it serves and the workers who provide that service," said Communications Workers of America President Chris Shelton. "Americans handed over $20 billion in tax cuts to AT&T because CEO Randall Stephenson promised to invest in America and create jobs. All that AT&T has created is dividends for its wealthy shareholders. We were mislead, and Congress should investigate."

Just this week, AT&T confirmed yet another round of job cuts. The latest announcement comes after AT&T confirmed earlier this month it is closing a 150-employee call center in Syracuse, New York and December's announcement of call center closures in Indianapolis, IN, Kalamazoo, MI, and Appleton, WI.

AT&T's response to concerns about layoffs with boasts about hiring have been met with skepticism, since hiring to address turnover is not the same as job creation. AT&T's own reported numbers show the decline in employment:

[1] AT&T quarterly reports.

[2] Time Warner Inc. Annual Report for fiscal year ending December 31, 2017 (Form 10-k) (February 22, 2018).

 

Background

A report by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) examines the telecom giant's continued role in hollowing out the middle class by eliminating thousands of jobs, closing call centers, and shifting customer service and network maintenance to low-wage contractors, including overseas vendors.

CWA is calling on Congress to investigate how AT&T is using the enormous tax cut benefits they received from the 2018 tax bill. Last month, CWA sent a letter to Congressman Richard Neal (D-MA), the current ranking member and incoming Chair of the Ways and Means Committee, urging the congressman to include AT&T in his tax bill investigation and oversight.

CWA has been leading the charge to hold AT&T accountable to their tax bill promises by publicly challenging them to reveal their spending plans for the tax windfall. CWA and other major unions filed information requests at over five companies and took action against companies like AT&T over its broken tax bill promises.

After AT&T refused to provide this information, CWA filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Trump-appointed NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb dismissed CWA's complaint. Since the NLRB has taken the position that ensuring that these tax savings benefit workers as promised goes beyond CWA's role as a union, CWA is calling on Chairman Neal and Congress to use their investigative powers to ensure that workers receive the benefits they were promised.

Links:

Press release: As AT&T releases Q4 earnings, CWA denounces ongoing layoffs, slashing of 11,000+ jobs since tax cut (CWA, Jan. 30, 2019)