Thousands Of AT&T Workers Call 3-Day Strike Over Contract Dispute

20 May 2017, 8:08 am EDT By Steve Bowman Tech Times
Nearly 40,000 AT&T employees called for a three-day strike and claimed that the company failed to provide them with a fair contract. AT&T officials countered the assertions and stated that it offered increased wages and pensions to employees.  ( Spencer Platt | Getty Images )

Roughly 40,000 AT&T employees declared a strike on Friday, May 19, and said it would continue over the weekend. The strike was called when AT&T failed to properly negotiate their contract terms.

Nearly 21,000 employees who took part in the three-day strike work in its wireless section. This strike suggests that many AT&T stores may stay closed during the weekend in all the affected 36 states and Washington D.C. These employees were allegedly not offered a fair contract since their last one expired in February.

Why AT&T Employees Declared The Strike

The Communications Workers of America is the employee union which called the strike. It alleged that AT&T was cutting call center jobs in the United States and outsourcing abroad. The CWA also accused AT&T of diverting retail jobs to third-party stores, which it does not own.

The CWA stated that these third-party stores are not under any worker unions and their employees are not offered the same benefits and wages, which company-owned store employees are given.

The CWA estimates that AT&T cut roughly 12,000 call center jobs in America and created the same in some foreign country. However, when the union asserted that AT&T release the exact data of such a practice, the company ignored the demands.

Employees also reported that AT&T was increasingly forcing them to pay their healthcare costs. This, along with changes in the workers commission, resulted in a reduction in pay, which employees take home at the end of each month.

Apart from the wireless workers, employees in the wireline side of business are also taking part in the strike. This includes internet services and landlines. Some employees engaged in AT&T's DirecTV are also involved in the ongoing strike.

What Does AT&T Say?

AT&T spokesman Marty Richter expressed shock over the strike. He noted that the company was offering wireless workers increased wages and a better pension plan. Richter claimed that AT&T workers were paid much better than the industry standard.

Richter also cited a report on PayScale, a company that tracks salary data, to hit home his point. The PayScale report mentions that AT&T sales personnel receive roughly $68,000 worth of wages and benefits per year. This figure is nearly twice that of what retail workers get as a whole.

Richter also shared that AT&T negotiated more than 150,000 contracts since 2015. He assured that in 2016, out of the 25,000 workforce, less than 5 AT&T retail workers lost their jobs.

The AT&T spokesperson stated that the company was prepared for such an eventuality and assured that a "contingency work force" was in place. This includes managers and workers who would ensure that AT&T customers do not encounter any issues during the strike.

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