AT&T Wireless Workers Vote to Authorize Strike, Announce Coast-to-Coast Rallies in 35 Cities
Friday, February 10, 2017
NATIONWIDE – As the nationwide contract covering more than 21,000 workers expires on Feb. 11, AT&T wireless retail and call center workers and technicians announced the results of a recent vote to authorize a strike, if necessary. Support across 36 different states is overwhelming with 93 percent of AT&T wireless workers voting in favor of a strike.
While AT&T brings in more than $1 billion a month in profits, it continues to offshore thousands of jobs to Mexico, the Philippines and other countries. AT&T workers are stepping up their mobilization nationwide, and on Friday and Saturday thousands of AT&T workers will rally outside major retail stores and call centers in 35 cities across the country and call on AT&T executives to work with them for a fair contract.
“Americans are fed up with giant corporations like AT&T that make record profits but ask workers to do more with less and choose to offshore and outsource jobs,” said Nicole Popis, an AT&T wireless call center worker who lives with her son in Illinois . “I’ve watched our staff shrink from 200 employees down to 130. I’m a single mother and my son’s about to graduate. I voted yes to authorize a strike because I’m willing to do whatever it takes to show AT&T we’re serious – the company must address these issues and bargain a fair contract.”
Since 2011, AT&T has chosen to cut more than 8,000 call center jobs and offshore thousands of jobs to Mexico, the Philippines, India, the Dominican Republic and other countries. Meanwhile, the company has outsourced the operation of more than 60% of its wireless retail stores to low-wage, low-quality 3rd party dealers. Last month, seven members of Congress sent a letter to President Trump encouraging his administration to help protect and bring call center jobs to the U.S.
AT&T’s latest proposals to wireless workers show the company is not serious about maintaining good jobs and high quality customer service, including trying to cut sick time and force long-time workers to pay hundreds of dollars more for basic healthcare.
“AT&T is underestimating the deep frustration wireless retail, call center and field workers are feeling right now with its decisions to squeeze workers and customers, especially as the company just reported more than $13 billion in annual profits, said Dennis Trainor, Vice President of CWA District 1. “Nationwide, AT&T workers’ resolve to win has never been stronger and when telecom workers commit to winning a fair contract they don’t back down.”
Pressure is mounting on AT&T to settle fair contracts with its workers across its business divisions. In California and Nevada, 17,000 AT&T workers who make sure phone, landline and cable services are running have been working without a contract for almost one year. Late last year, these workers voted to authorize a strike with 95.6 percent support. A third contract covering 21,000 workers in Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas is set to expire in April 2017.
“Every day, I help dozens of customers get the phones and services they want, and fix any issues that may come up. I have customers who are on a first-name basis with me and my co-workers because they keep coming back for our service,” said Ghiajaira Paz, a retail sales support representative in the Bronx. “But while we work harder every day, making huge sacrifices to provide the quality customer service that makes AT&T successful, the company continues to cut our pay, healthcare and sick time. We won’t settle for it and this week we’re sending our message loud and clear.”
Last year, CWA members at Verizon were on strike for 49 days, finally gaining a strong contract that created and protected good jobs . During the strike, Verizon’s approval ratings were at a three-year low while analysts and media regularly remarked on the reputational damage facing Verizon.
AT&T Workers to Rally in 35 Cities as Contract Expiration Approaches
In larger-than-ever numbers, AT&T workers are taking action to show the company they will do whatever it takes to win a fair contract. In the past few weeks, AT&T workers have rallied at major AT&T retail stores in New York, Boston, Seattle, Chicago, San Diego and other cities. On the West Coast, AT&T workers have gathered at major state freeway overpasses.