Some 14,000 AT&T workers covered by Midwest and Legacy T contracts could be hitting the pavement soon. The Communications Workers of America’s (CWA) executive board has voted to approve a strike.
The decision gives CWA President Chris Shelton the go-ahead to set a strike date if negotiators can’t reach an agreement. A strike date has not been set. Last month, the CWA authorized a potential strike against AT&T after the workers’ contracts expired.
The employees remain on the job for the time being.
“This is not an unexpected step in negotiations of this sort,” said Marty Richter, AT&T spokesman. “We’re working with the union to reach a fair agreement, and are confident we will. But preparing for contingencies is all part of what we do for customers. Whether it’s hurricanes, floods, snowstorms or even a work stoppage, we’re always ready.”
The threat of a strike comes after the news broke of AT&T paying $600,000 to President Trump attorney Michael Cohen. According to the CWA, 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 Hinton, CWA District 4 vice president. “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.”
Last month, the CWA released a report blasting AT&T for allegedly eliminating “thousands of jobs, closing call centers and shifting customer service and network maintenance to low-wage contractors, including overseas vendors.” It noted that while AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson once “boasted that every $1 billion in tax savings will create about 7,000 good jobs for the middle class,” the company announced more than 1,500 layoffs just days after Trump’s tax bill became law.
AT&T has chosen to hire nearly 87,000 people in the United States in the last three years, most of whom are union-represented employees, Richter said.
“And we’re currently hiring thousands more,” he said. “We provide more good-paying, full-time union jobs in the United States than anyone, and the fact is the CWA and its members benefit from that greatly.”