BATON ROUGE, La. (NBC Local 33) (FOX 44) — Anyone looking for AT&T customer service may have to wait a bit longer than normal after more than 20,000 unionized AT&T workers in the southeast went on strike after a breakdown in contract negotiations.
The strike involves technicians, customer service representatives and others who install, maintain and support AT&T’s residential and business wire-line telecommunications network in Louisiana as well as Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee .
The workers’ union Communications Workers of America (CWA), said AT&T employees went on strike at midnight Friday over unfair labor practices committed by management during negotiations for a new contract.
CWA filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board against AT&T for not bargaining in good faith and not sending representatives to the bargaining table with the authority to make decisions, according to a press release.
“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.”
AT&T released a statement which said:
A strike is in no one’s best interest. We remain ready to sit down with union leaders to negotiate a new, improved contract for our employees. Our bargaining team is negotiating this contract with CWA leaders in the same way we have successfully done with other CWA contracts over the years. We listen, engage in substantive discussions and share proposals back and forth until we reach agreement.AT&T STATEMENT ON CWA LEADERS CALLING FOR A STRIKE IN THE SOUTHEAST
That’s why we’re surprised and disappointed that union leaders would call for a strike at this point in the negotiations, particularly when we’re offering terms that would help our employees – some of whom average from $121,000 to $134,000 in total compensation – be even better off.
We’re prepared for a strike and will continue working hard to serve our customers.
According to AT&T, the company has reached 20 fair agreements since 2017 covering more than 89,000 employees.
Additional unfair labor practice charges have been filed against the company in Florida for illegally disciplining members for wearing union memorabilia and for participating in activities that are protected under the National Labor Relations Act. CWA members in South Florida initiated a strike over the company’s unfair labor practices on August 22.