The union members will continue to work with their contract in place until Friday as the CWA continues negotiations with AT&T. The contract covers workers in Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas.
“AT&T Mobility workers in the Southwest are not afraid to do whatever it takes to make sure that the company invests in its employees so that we can build and support the next-generation networks that our communities need,” said Jason Vellmer, a CWA staff representative leading the bargaining team. “We have made progress toward a fair contract over the last few days, but several critical issues remain unresolved. This strike authorization vote lets AT&T know that the bargaining team has the full support of our members as we work toward a new contract that protects our healthcare, improves wages and keeps family-supporting, union jobs in the region.”
AT&T spokesman Jim Kimberly tells Channel Partners a strike vote is a “routine, not unexpected” step in negotiations of this sort and is often a part of the process.
“We’re continuing to bargain with the union, and we’re committed to reaching a fair agreement that will allow us to continue to provide solid union-represented jobs with competitive wages and benefits,” he said. “We’re confident an agreement will be reached.”
This contract covers less than 3% of AT&T’s employees, Kimberly said.
Last summer, 20,000 CWA members at AT&T Southeast went on strike after their contract expired, and in 2017, CWA members at AT&T Mobility in 36 states and the District of Columbia joined together in a three-day strike when negotiations stalled.
AT&T has continued to cater to the demands of “controversial vulture” hedge fund Elliott Management, which purchased a small stake in AT&T last September, according to the CWA. Elliott is pushing AT&T to “extract profits from the company by eliminating jobs, outsourcing work and divesting critical assets,” it said.