More than 22,000 Southeast AT&T workers are a step closer to going on strike after a contract extension expired this weekend amid continuing negotiations between the carrier and the Communications Workers of America (CWA).
The contract covers wireline employees in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and St. Croix, the U.S. Virgin Islands. Last month, the workers voted to authorize a strike if necessary.
For now, workers will remain on the job without a contract in place as the CWA continues to negotiate for a deal that “includes quality health care coverage, wage increases, job security and investment in local communities,” the union said.
“The contract didn’t have to expire, but it did because … AT&T has not been taking our proposals seriously,” said Richard Honeycutt, CWA District 3 vice president. “For weeks, we have pressed AT&T Southeast to move off of their bargaining demands that will hurt workers, their families and our communities. We are ready to bargain for a fair and just contract, but we need AT&T Southeast to be ready to do the same.”
AT&T spokesman Marty Richter tells Channel Partners that although a settlement was not reached before the extended contract expired, employees will work under the terms of the expired contract while negotiations continue.
“We remain committed to reaching a fair contract,” he said. “Since the beginning of 2017 we’ve successfully bargained – and union-represented employees have voted to ratify – 20 agreements collectively covering about 89,000 employees, and we look forward to doing the same here. That includes three wireline contracts that CWA-represented employees ratified last week by a substantial margin.
AT&T recently reported $45 billion in revenue and a $3.7 billion profit for its second quarter. The recent earnings report shows that AT&T has eliminated 27,828 jobs across the company since the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, cutting 4,500 jobs during its second quarter, according to the CWA.