AT&T workers and representatives from the Communication Workers of America made their presence and grievances known at today’s Dallas meeting for AT&T shareholders, and the event came to a head when the group gave Ma Bell their official collective 72 hour notice to end their contract extensions. Around 21,000 AT&T workers have toiled under an extended contract for AT&T since February 11, stipulating that AT&T could terminate them at will, but they couldn’t walk off the job without legal threat. Once the 72 hour notification period is over, those contract extensions are officially over. This means that May 1st marks the date that the AT&T workers who ended their contracts, in conjunction with CWA, can call a strike and simply walk off the job at any time, with no threat of legal ramifications springing from breach of contract.
The Dallas event where it all went down was an AT&T annual shareholder meeting at the Dallas Performance Center. Over 100 AT&T employees showed up to air their grievances backed by CWA representatives. The goal was to bring their plight to the attention of AT&T shareholders and investors, and to call some of AT&T’s harmful business decisions into question, such as ignoring under-served areas for broadband, and ignoring landline 911 outages for some customers. Not only were workers on site to protest, but some who actually held AT&T stock made their way inside the meeting to bring the issues to the face of the shareholder meeting and onto shareholders’ collective radars.
The laundry list for AT&T workers who were present at the protest centered around jobs being outsourced away from the company. Some jobs, like tech support and call center positions, are being sent out of the country. Retail jobs, on the other hand, are being filled up by authorized retailers, who employees and the CWA claim are often found to engage in deceptive or customer-unfriendly business practices. They also talked about decisions and conditions that posed a threat to the company’s good financial standing, such as the aforementioned landline and broadband problems, and openly opposed a $28.4 million salary package this year for CEO Randall Stephenson, citing widespread financial instability throughout the company. Workers staged a massive strike last month, and this latest move shows that they are not afraid to repeat that.