NATIONWIDE (CBSDFW.COM) — AT&T workers who are members of Communications Workers of America walked off the job Friday, protesting what they call "AT&T's failure to present serious proposals that invest in good jobs with a future."
This weekend, a majority of AT&T wireless, wireline and DIRECTV workers fighting for their contracts are expected to be on strike, according to a news release from the CWA.
The groups striking represent four different union contracts and include wireless workers in 36 states and DC; wireline workers in California, Nevada and Connecticut; and DIRECTV technicians in California and Nevada.
This is the first time AT&T wireless workers have gone on strike, according to the CWA. The news release said the action could result in closed retail stores this weekend.
"We will no longer stand by as AT&T hems and haws at the bargaining table, keeping its own workers from achieving the American Dream they once promised," said Dennis Trainor, Vice President of CWA District 1. "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."
While the three-day strike may inconvenience customers in the short term, the CWA news release stated:
AT&T workers are committed to putting an end to unnecessary frustration and poor service because of AT&T's lack of investment in its core business. AT&T workers will return to work on Monday and have vowed to do what they have to do if AT&T violates their rights or an open-ended strike becomes necessary.
"As a father, striking is not an easy decision for me. But to make sure I can give my kids the future they deserve, we must take a stand against any and all attempts to skimp on good jobs and financial security," said Mark Bautista, an AT&T wireline worker from El Sobrante, California. "And 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."
AT&T workers say they are demanding "AT&T commit to bargaining that addresses wage increases that cover rising healthcare costs, job security against outsourcing, affordable healthcare, and a fair scheduling policy. Retail workers' take home pay has plummeted in the last year after AT&T unilaterally changed its commission plan."
Workers are also protesting AT&T's outsourcing of jobs to contractors.
"We're walking off the job today because AT&T has every means available to support its core workforce and the customers who help make them $1 billion a month in profits, but chooses to undercut us at every turn," said James Stiffey, an AT&T wireless worker from Pittsburgh. "As a retail worker, I know that my store and many others across the country could close and disrupt service, but our strike is about demanding conditions that allow us to provide better service for customers too. We are standing together to win a fair contract that protects customers, families and entire communities—and we'll do whatever it takes to get it."
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