The union, which is associated with the AFL-CIO, filed a lawsuit on Friday complaining that 152 displaced premises technicians will see AT&T subcontract their former their jobs to cheaper or overseas workers. AT&T argues that it is adapting to changing technologies and hiring more than before.
CWA’s main complaint at the time was that AT&T was publicly celebrating the successfully signed tax law with holiday bonuses while quietly laying off a large number of employees. But the text of the lawsuit reveals that employees learned of the impending layoffs Dec. 14, a week before President Trump signed the tax legislation into law. The document also asserts that some of the workers’ positions themselves have not been eliminated; rather, they will be replaced by subcontractors.
CWA argues that AT&T is intentionally trying to reduce the union’s bargaining power with the layoffs.
“This is an action brought by a labor union… against an employer over the employer instituting an unprecedented massive layoff of employees represented by the union while at the same time massively subcontracting work that the employees are trained and qualified to perform, for the bad faith purpose of diminishing the employee bargaining unit for which the union serves as exclusive representative in willful, bad faith breach of a contractual promise to deal with the union with respect, fairness, and good faith,” the union wrote in the lawsuit.
AT&T spokesman Marty Richter told the Dallas Morning News that his company has actually increased its number of technicians.
“The fact is the allegations in the lawsuit are baseless,” Richter said. “We comply with the terms of our collective bargaining agreements and did so in this case.”
Richter told Channel Partners last week that many of the laid-off employees will find work elsewhere at AT&T, either at a new location or in a new position. He says shifting trends are forcing the company to increase its investment in new technologies.
“We’re adding people in many parts of our business that are experiencing higher customer demand. At the same time, technology improvements are driving higher efficiencies and there are some areas where demand for our legacy services continues to decline, and we’re adjusting our workforce in some of those areas,” he said. “We’ll work to find other AT&T jobs for as many affected employees as possible. Regarding premises technicians, we adjust the workforce based on changing market dynamics, which vary from region to region. In some regions we are hiring these same resources and these employees have the opportunity to transfer to those locations.”
But the union says AT&T isn’t planning a “reduction in workload” for the 152 premises technicians that install TVs and Internet services.
“So far, AT&T has put forward a proposal to cut thousands of work hours from employees’ schedules, while continuing to contract out work and send good jobs overseas,” a CWA announcement said Monday. “The contracting out of this work and AT&T’s offshoring of good jobs is the real issue. AT&T must stop hiring contractors to do the same work that employees are qualified and trained to do.”
But apparently AT&T has put a short pause on some of the layoffs.
“A recent series of ’round-the-clock discussions with the company resulted in a delay of the effective date of the earliest layoffs to Jan. 9, but so far we haven’t been able to completely stop this surplus,” CWA wrote. “We have been able to prevent a small number of layoffs.”