Dozens of elected officials pledge support for AT&T workers fighting for a fair contract in California, Nevada

Dozens of elected officials throughout California and Nevada sent a letter to AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson and EVP of Labor Relations Mark Royse Tuesday, pointing out that the telecommunication giant is denying many communities high-speed broadband and reliable landline phone access and harming those communities by cutting thousands of middle-class jobs. AT&T’s actions also are hurting workers by refusing to bargain a fair contract, they wrote.

“AT&T made more than $16 billion in profits last year, paid out $46 million to its top executives, and spent billions on costly mergers, but it’s attempting to move good quality jobs out of California and Nevada,” the letter states. “Workers are standing up for their communities.”

Elected officials throughout California and Nevada signed the letter, including Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve, Chula Vista Mayor Mary Casillas Salas, Los Angeles City Councilmembers Mike Bonin and Curren D. Price, State Sens. Jim Beall and Josh Newman, State Assemblymember Tom Daly, and Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin.

“More than 17,000 AT&T technicians and call center staff work hard every day to ensure that our communities have reliable phone and Internet access. AT&T should recognize these workers by helping to harness and grow their skills and expertise, not cut jobs,” said Santa Clara Mayor Lisa M. Gillmor. “This is the innovation capital of the world. AT&T should be innovating to create more good-paying jobs, not resorting to corporate games that shortchange workers and the communities it serves.”

In the last five years, AT&T has made a concerted effort to shutter call centers in California and Nevada and move jobs out of the states and overseas. AT&T call centers in San Diego, Pasadena, San Ramon, Commerce, Oakland, and Torrance have lost a significant number of jobs. The company also completely closed call centers in Bakersfield and Anaheim.

In the letter, elected officials also pointed to AT&T’s failure to provide many communities in California and Nevada with high-speed Internet and reliable, basic telephone service. Due to under-maintained copper lines, remote and rural areas are left without reliable landline phone access, 911 and emergency services, and basic Internet service.

“Too many Californians and Nevadans have waited far too long for AT&T to build the high-speed broadband infrastructure promised to them,” the letter states. “As the largest telecom provider in California, and a major telecom provider in Nevada, AT&T has a responsibility to ensure that customers in rural areas have access to essential services at all times, not just when it’s convenient for the company.”

The officials also pledged their support for the workers’ effort to preserve quality jobs in cities throughout California and Nevada. Seventeen thousand AT&T customer service workers and technicians in California and Nevada are bargaining with the company for a new contract and have been working without a contract for nearly a year.

The mayors of Arvin and Emeryville – both signers – participated in the press briefing call today:

Arvin Mayor Jose Gurrola: “AT&T has reneged on its responsibility to customers in more rural areas like Arvin. By offshoring jobs, AT&T is hurting the local economy by creating a void in not only the local job market, but also in the quality maintenance of the services that has kept our communities connected.”

Emeryville Mayor Scott Donahue: “Quality, middle-class jobs are increasingly harder to come by, especially in the San Francisco Bay Area. By denying workers a fair contract and offshoring jobs, AT&T is hurting our economy and shrinking the pool of good jobs for hardworking women and men.”

After nearly a year of bargaining with AT&T, 17,000 workers in California and Nevada are frustrated with the company’s attempts to shortchange working families and communities. An additional 2,300 DIRECTV workers have been in negotiations for a first contract since April 2016. The company has become increasingly disconnected from the day to day issues facing workers and customers. Despite its financial success, AT&T is asking its workers to do more for less – keeping them from their families with unpredictable overtime, undercutting pay and advancement, offshoring good jobs, and pushing more healthcare costs onto employees. At the same time, customers are paying higher bills to AT&T for essential services. The issues raised by AT&T workers are similar to those raised by Verizon workers last year in a 49-day strike.

 

Links:

Elected officials sign letter in support of AT&T worker in CA, NV (CWA, Mar. 14, 2017)

State officials slam AT&T for poor service, job cuts (San Francisco Chronicle, Mar. 14, 2017)

AT&T slammed by Bay Area mayors over ‘greed’ and ‘corporate games’ as it rakes in profits and cuts jobs (Siliconbeat, Mar. 14, 2017)