20,000 Strike Against AT&T in Southeast
The CWA went on strike after the company refused to bargain in good faith
At midnight on Saturday, August 24th, 20,000 Communications Workers of America (CWA) members went on strike. The members work at AT&T Southeast and are striking over unfair labor practices that were committed by management during the negotiation of a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA).
The 20,000 members include technicians, customer service representatives, and employees who install, maintain and support AT&T’s residential and business wireline network. All of the employees work in right to work states including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
According to the union, AT&T is not bargaining in good faith and not sending representatives to the bargaining table with the authority to make a deal. The union has also filed charges in Florida claiming the company punished members who were wearing CWA gear and members who took part in protected union activity.
“We entered these negotiations prepared to bargain in good faith with AT&T to address our members’ concerns and to work together to find solutions,” said CWA District 3 Vice President Richard Honeycutt. “Our talks have stalled because it has become clear that AT&T has not sent negotiators who have the power to make decisions so we can move forward toward a new contract.”
The CWA members at AT&T have been without a contract since their previous one expired on August 3rd. In a good-faith move, the CWA waited for three weeks after the contract expired before going out on strike. The strike was authorized by 95% of the membership.
AT&T’s decision to not engage in good faith bargaining with the union is not because the company is failing. In the fourth quarter of 2018, AT&T reported a $19 Billion profit that was partially fueled by the $3 billion tax cut Trump gave them. Even with those record profits, AT&T has cut 23,000 jobs since November of 2017.
“If you were to visit any work center or call center across District 3, you would discover that your employees, our members, are not treated with the respect they have earned and deserve,” CWA Vice President of District 3 Richard Honeycutt said as he opened contract negotiations with AT&T Southeast in late June. "As far as mutual responsibility, this has unfortunately become a one-way street."