More than 20,000 AT&T employees across the Southeast walked out of work on Saturday, according to Communications Workers of America, a union representing many of the company's employees who work in call centers and maintain the network of telecommunications company.
CWA members of local unions in nine states, including Alabama, left their posts Saturday and occupied areas in front of AT&T facilities to protest negotiation tactics used by the company. The strike included AT&T employees in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.
AT&T is negotiating contracts for employees in the Southeast, but the union says the company is sending people to negotiate with them. with no authority to make deals.
"We are here for an unfair labor practice," said Errol Minor, vice president of CWA Local 3902, the Birmingham chapter.
Minor led six other protesters in front of the AT&T building on US 280, opposite the Summit. He said 3902 members were protesting in front of several AT&T locations throughout the Birmingham area, including the town on 6th Avenue North, Pelham, Gardendale, and Pike Road. The CWA has local chapters located throughout Alabama.
"AT&T sent merchants to the bargaining table without talking well," Minor said. "If we can get someone from [AT&T headquarters] Dallas, not just a figure, but someone who can negotiate in good faith, then all this will go away."
AT&T spokesman Marty Richter said the company was ready for strike. but surprised that it happened.
"The strike has no interest in anyone," Richter said. "We remain willing to sit down with union leaders to listen to their concerns and cooperate with them in negotiating a new, improved contract for our employees.
" We are shocked and disappointed that leaders the union will call for a strike at this point in negotiations, especially when we offer terms that will help our employees ̵1; some of whom average from $ 121,000 to $ 134,000 in total compensation – get better. "
In northern Alabama, Local CWA 3905 President David Betz said in a news conference that members of the affected area would return at work when good faith Continues negotiations.
"[O] ur demands that AT&T return to the bargaining table, with the appropriate entrepreneurs," Betz said. any undue hardship to AT&T customers, however, the company should find its employees deserving of contract negotiations. "
Richter says the company offers competitive the terms of the union.
"We have offered union terms consistent with what other CWA representatives have agreed to in recent contract negotiations; the company has reached 20 fair agreements since 2017 covering over 89,000 employees, "Richter said by email. "The contract in the Southeast covers less than 8 percent of our employees.
" We are ready for a strike and in the event of a ceasefire, we will continue to work hard to serve our customers. "