Last month, AT&T announced the closure of three call centers in Indianapolis; Kalamazoo, Michigan; and Appleton, Wisconsin, as part of another round of layoffs across the Midwest. While some employees at the three call centers may be able to relocate to the region’s two remaining centers in Dayton, Ohio, and Southfield, Michigan, many workers will be forced to leave the company, according to the CWA.
As AT&T is shedding jobs, it is on track to pay out three-quarters of its 2018 profits to shareholders in the form of dividends and share buybacks, according to the union.
Key findings from the report include:
“Despite the fact that we have been one of AT&T’s highest-performing call centers, the company has had us in their sights for years,” said AT&T worker and union member Betsy Lafontaine, who has worked at the Appleton center for almost 30 years. “They have shifted our customer calls to offshore vendor centers where workers are paid less than $5 an hour, and at the same have made our sales metrics tougher and more exacting to meet. Now we have a tough choice — uproot our lives and transfer to another center that AT&T may shut down in a few years, or try to find one of the few jobs here with good benefits and family-supporting wages.”
The union says AT&T refuses to release details about how it is using its $20 billion in tax savings.
AT&T spokeman Andy Morgan said the telco continues to “invest in good middle-class careers in areas where we’re seeing increasing customer demand for our products and services.”
“We’re one of the country’s largest employers, and one of the largest employers of full-time union labor,” she said. “At the same time, technology improvements are driving higher efficiencies and demand for our legacy services continues to decline. As a result, we must sometimes adjust our workforce. It’s not always easy, but like any business we must work consistently to ensure our workforce is aligned with the needs of our customers.”
The report comes as the CWA calls on Congress to investigate how AT&T is using the tax-cut benefits it received from the tax bill. CWA sent a letter Monday to Congressman Richard Neal (D-Mass.), the chair of the Ways and Means Committee, asking him to include AT&T in his tax bill investigation and oversight.
“AT&T is breaking its promise to workers, customers and communities across the country,” said Linda Hinton, CWA District 4 vice president. “The company pledged to invest in U.S. workers if the tax bill passed, but they’ve done just the opposite. Companies like AT&T must renew their commitment to working people and the towns that depend on these jobs.”
CWA’s contract with AT&T’s Midwest and national Legacy T units expired in April 2018 and “keeping good family-supporting jobs in communities across the country” has been a key issue in negotiations, according to the union.
Morgan said most of AT&T’s union-represented employees have a job-offer guarantee that ensures they are offered another job with the company if they are affected by staffing changes.