The Executive Board of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) has voted to approve a strike by 14,000 workers covered by AT&T’s Midwest and Legacy T contracts. The Executive Board’s decision comes after AT&T Midwest and Legacy T workers voted on April 10 to authorize a strike, and as the company is stonewalling workers at the bargaining table over the need for good, family supporting jobs. The Executive Board’s decision gives CWA President Chris Shelton the go ahead to set a strike date if negotiators cannot reach an agreement.
The threat of a strike comes as AT&T faces scrutiny for paying $600,000 to Trump attorney Michael Cohen. AT&T says that Cohen did no legal or lobbying work for the firm, but was instead richly compensated for “insights” into the Trump administration.
“AT&T paid six-figure sums to a shady consultant who provided nothing of value to the company but is unwilling to commit to family-supporting jobs in the communities that it serves” said Linda L. Hinton, Vice President of CWA District 4 which covers the Midwest Region. “If AT&T refuses to protect the good jobs that support our families and communities, our members will take action. AT&T promised to invest in its U.S. workforce if the GOP tax bill passed. We’re going to hold them to that promise – even if it means going on strike.”
“AT&T’s claims that Michael Cohen did ‘real work’ for the company are laughable,” said Lisa Bolton, Vice President of CWA Telecommunication and Technologies. “We know who does the real work at AT&T – our members. It’s time for the company to agree to a fair contract that provides good jobs with affordable benefits.”
Before the Republican tax bill passed, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson promised that every $1 billion in tax savings would create “7,000 good jobs for the middle class.” Instead, just days after the tax bill became law, the company announced more than 1,500 layoffs – compounding workers’ concerns about the company’s practice of shifting work to low-wage overseas contractors, which many believe is hurting the quality of service and damaging AT&T’s brand. The company’s touted investment of just $1 billion on capital projects and one-time $1,000 bonuses to employees is equivalent to just 7% of its expected annual profit from the cuts. Overall jobs numbers at AT&T are down 29,000 from two years ago.
While AT&T refuses to release details about plans for its $20 billion in tax savings, a recent report from CWA found that AT&T has closed 44 call centers and eliminated 16,000 call center jobs in the last seven years. The report reveals the devastating impact of recent call center closures across the Midwest, an area that has been particularly hard hit by closures and layoffs. Meanwhile, the company’s latest quarterly earnings report reveals $4.7 billion in profits and indicates that AT&T is spending more than ever on dividends and buybacks.
The AT&T Midwest contract covers workers in Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin, while the Legacy T contract covers workers nationwide. Both contracts expired on April 14, 2018.
CWA Executive Board Green Lights Strike at AT&T (CWA, May 11, 2018)