Union: Up to 40K walking off the job at AT&T this weekend

Jane Richards
May 20, 2017

Employees at AT&T cellphone stores could walk off the job today if they don't come to a labor agreement with the company by 3 p.m.

A majority of AT&T Inc.'s wireless, wireline and DirecTV workers began a three-day strike on Friday after failing to reach an agreement with the No. 2 USA wireless carrier over new contracts. The strike went on for 44 days until an agreement was reached. They didn't; the workers walked.

This is a strike happening with over 40,000 AT&T employees across the country.

The CWA was involved in a 45-day strike past year by 40,000 Verizon wireline workers that ended in June.

AT&T has proposed to cut sick time and force long-time workers to pay hundreds of dollars more for basic healthcare, according to CWA. Meanwhile, the company has outsourced the operation of more than 60 percent of its wireless retail stores to operators who pay much less than the union wage, according to CWA. A recent CWA report charges that in the Dominican Republic, for instance, where it uses subcontractors, wages are $2.13-$2.77/hour.

At stake is a battle over the quality of union jobs at AT&T.

Another key issue is job security protections. As part of its next contract, the union wants to bar AT&T from changing its commission structure unilaterally.

The union argues that AT&T generates "nearly $1 billion a month in profits"-it posted a $3.56 billion first-quarter profit this year-and is "failing to invest in its core business and infrastructure" as it outsources and moves jobs offshore". We have made every effort to bargain in good faith with AT&T but have been met with delays and excuses. The strike would include 21,000 AT&T Mobility workers and would mark the first time the carrier's wireless employees held a strike. AT&T worker Nicole Popis told People's World that she and her coworkers were ready to do "whatever it takes" to get a fair contract.

To keep raking in the profits, AT&T has ruthlessly pursued subcontracting of call center work.

"We will continue working hard to serve our customers", said AT&T spokesman Marty Richter, who declined to estimate potential store closures but said the company will "be open for business". "Even my son will be out there with me".

Other reports by VgToday

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