AT&T workers strike over contract negotiations

AT&T workers in Southeast on Strike

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Over 20,000 AT&T workers went on strike over alleged unfair labor practices in nine states across the Southeast.

On Saturday, picket lines could be seen all over the Birmingham metropolitan area.

Around a dozen workers met in front of the AT&T corporate building on Highway 280 across from the Summit.

CWA local union president Steve Monk says the strike is about unfair labor practices. He wants AT&T management to sit down and listen to the union’s requests during the current contract negotiations.

“Hopefully AT&T will come around soon and we will get our folks back in,” says Monk. “You see it’s hot and muggy out here. We would rather be inside doing our jobs or in our trucks taking care of the business and services. That’s what we would rather be doing.”

AT&T spokesperson Jim Kimberly released a statement Saturday afternoon:

“A strike would be in no one’s best interest. We’re baffled as to why union leadership would call one when we’re offering terms that would help our employees – some of whom average from $121,000 to $134,000 in total compensation – be even better off.

“We have offered the union terms that are consistent with what other CWA-represented employees have approved in recent contract negotiations; the company has reached 20 fair agreements since 2017 covering more than 89,000 employees. The Southeast contract covers fewer than 8 percent of our employees.

“We’re prepared for a strike and in the event of a work stoppage, we will continue working hard to serve our customers.”

The strike involves over 20,000 technicians, customer service representatives and others who install, maintain and support AT&T’s wireline telecommunications network.

Here is the full release from CWA District 3:

Today, CWA members notified the District 3 Office of the propaganda that AT&T distributed to employees. This propaganda is unfortunately in lockstep with the company's behavior during negotiations, as it isn't the truth. Similarly, during bargaining AT&T's lead negotiator requested to meet with District 3 leadership, claiming that the company, in an effort to reach an agreement, would be moving our direction on more than half of the twelve (12) priority issues brought to the table by our bargaining team. District 3 leadership accepted the invitation and attended the meeting where the AT&T's bargaining representatives stated that they could only bargain over one (1) of the twelve (12) priority issues. One (1) out of twelve (12) is a long way from over half. In CWA's Leadership School, we learn that honesty is very important in negotiations.

The propaganda distributed this morning by AT&T stated that the last bargaining session with CWA was Saturday, August 17th. This is not the truth. The last bargaining session took place on Tuesday, August 20th. During this bargaining session, the company passed proposals, asking employees to agree to the following:

1) To eliminate a joint Union/company council where employee's concerns can be addressed with the company’s leadership

2) To expand the scope of work for Wire Technicians, requiring them to pick up even more job responsibilities without a pay increase

3) To allow the company to eliminate provisions of Article 14 in order to assign construction work, currently performed by our members, to low wage subcontractors

4) To allow the company to lay off employees with no regard for seniority and to instead utilize attendance and performance metrics

5) To eliminate termination payments for employees who cannot comply with the safe load limit

6) To reduce termination pay for employees with permanent medical restrictions

7) To institute a mandatory stand by program, forcing employees to come to work at anytime

8) To cut the pay and eliminate the positions, which employ representatives who assist them with continuing education, college tuition assistance, health insurance, and short-term disability claims

9) To allow the company to eliminate Core Technician jobs, surplus them into Wire Technician positions, and then force them to continue performing the job duties of a Core Technician

10) To decrease the amount of paid illness time for employees

In exchange for employees agreeing to give all of this to AT&T, the company proposed the following for Wire Technicians only:

1) To eliminate the requirement to provide the company a 24-hour notification, before a Wire Technician can use one (1) guaranteed day off per year

2) To provide one (1) extra week of notification before the company lays off Wire Technicians

While AT&T continues to refuse to accommodate CWA's request that they send someone to the bargaining table who has the authority to make a decision, we can expect more and more of this type of misleading propaganda. We at CWA value our word and understand the importance of honesty.

Stay strong brothers and sisters. We are all counting on each other!

According to Steve Monk, the majority of employees who are on strike do not earn six-figure incomes.

“[Those on strike make] from $24,100 to $79,352. The top wage scales could get to the $120,000 mark if they worked around the clock. It would require an almost unsustainable amount of overtime," said Monk.

The stike marched into day three, Monday.

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