One year after the Communication Workers of America union organized a massive strike among Verizon workers and won substantial gains, approximately 39,000 AT&T workers walked off the job on Friday after CWA called a three-day strike.
CWA called for the strike to protest continued outsourcing of jobs, recent weakening of employment contracts, and lack of wage increases.
“Despite being the largest telecom company in the country with nearly $1 billion a month in profits and the CEO earning $28 million, AT&T continues to pinch its workers’ basic needs and stand in the way of high-quality service its customers pay good money for. This is a warning to AT&T: there’s only one way out of this now—a fair contract—and we’ll settle for nothing less,” said Dennis Trainor, Vice President of CWA District 1 on the union's website.
The union recently released a report detailing the extent to which the major communications provider has consistently outsourced its jobs in a “race to the bottom,” noting that since 2011 AT&T has closed over 30 call centers and significantly downsized dozens more. According to the report, the jobs are outsourced overseas where workers are paid “pennies on the dollar compared to U.S. wages,” that are “often inadequate to support workers and their families.”
According to CWA, striking AT&T employee Mark Bautista in California said that the decision to strike “is not easy” for him, but that “our fight for a fair contract is about more than just my co-workers and me—it’s about fighting a system that’s been rigged against us and way too many others for far too long. On the picket lines today, I’ll be chanting ‘No Contract, No Peace,’ until I lose my voice.”
Regarding the CWA's decision to strike, Marty Richter, a corporate representative of AT&T, said he was “baffled” over the union's call, adding that “a strike is in no one's best interest,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
The striking workers will return to work on Monday, however according to CWA they have vowed to do “what they have to do” should an open-ended strike become necessary.
Last years CWA called strike involving over 40,000 Verizon workers lasted more than a month, and resulted in substantial gains after reaching an agreement with the company. Following a lengthy period of store closings, Verizon agreed last year to withdraw outsourcing plans, provide a 10.9 percent raise over four years, and improve pension and healthcare plans.