AT&T workers that have been fighting with their employer for a while now have laid out a clear ultimatum; if they don’t get a proposal from the carrier that they consider fair by Friday, they’re going to strike. To be exact, AT&T has until 3PM Eastern time this Friday, May 19, to come up with something that will help to improve working conditions, protect jobs, and give workers a fair wage and benefit package. If they fail to do so, about 40,000 employees nationwide are planning to go on strike. This strike will be the first to unify every division of AT&T, including wireline, DIRECTV, and mobility. It’s also worth noting that this will be the mobile division’s first strike ever. If an agreement is not reached and workers go through with the strike, it will last three days.
Already, AT&T employees in every division are protesting, preparing to strike if necessary. Workers are taking issue with a wide variety of business practices, including outsourcing jobs, underpaying employees, short-changing benefit packages, writing up contracts that put employees in uncomfortable positions, and even failing to sufficiently invest in network assets, putting business, and thus workers’ paychecks, in jeopardy. AT&T workers have the full support of Communication Workers of America, all the way up to vice president Dennis Trainor, who spoke out to affirm their intent to begin a strike on May 19 if their demands are not met.
Tensions between AT&T and their jilted staff reached the boiling point at a recent protest in Texas, which was held during a shareholder meeting in order to bring worrisome business practices and AT&T’s treatment of their employees into the eyes the public, and more importantly, to shareholders’ attention. It was at that protest that workers on extended contracts gave AT&T their 72 hour notice of intent to cancel those extensions, and thus their obligation to not strike. Naturally, this set the stage for the massive nationwide strike that’s going to take place on May 19 if AT&T does not act. Thus far, AT&T workers and the CWA have not laid out hard guidelines for what an acceptable proposal would look like, so some sort of negotiation is expected, unless AT&T opts to ignore workers’ pleas and weather the upcoming strike.