NEW YORK - Up to 40,000 AT&T (T) workers have started walking off the job over contract fights with the phone company, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) said Friday.
Workers will strike in 36 states and Washington, D.C. on Saturday and Sunday and return to work Monday, according to the union.
The walk-outs will include 21,000 workers on the wireless side of the company, which the union says raises the prospect that some cellphone stores could be closed this weekend in Washington, D.C., or one of the states affected.
Wireless employees want wage increases that cover higher health care costs, better scheduling and promises from the company to not cut jobs.
"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 CWA official Dennis Trainor in a statement. "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."
"A strike is in no one's best interest, and it's baffling as to why union leadership would call one when we're offering terms in which our employees in these contracts – some of whom average from $115,000 to $148,000 in total compensation – will be better off financially," AT& spokesman Steven Maviglio said in an email to CBS San Francisco.
CWA represents roughly 150,000 workers at AT&T. Some 17,000 other potential protesters come from AT&T's home phone, internet and cable division in California, Nevada and Connecticut. Another 2,000 are DirecTV workers in California and Nevada.
Dallas-based AT&T says it has a contingency workforce" ready in preparation for the walkouts.