Update: AT&T has reached out with the following comment: "As in all of our contract negotiations, we’re committed to working together with the union to reach fair agreements that will allow us to continue to provide solid union-represented careers with excellent wages and benefits. We’re continuing to bargain with the union and we’re confident that an agreement will be reached. These employees are well compensated in their industry, and they will continue to be. Our contracts generally include annual wage increases and we’re confident the affected employees will be better off financially when new contracts are reached. We have a good relationship with our unions and a long history of bargaining in good faith – including five fair contracts we reached, and CWA members voted to ratify, last year and early this year. Those contracts cover nearly 70,000 of our union-represented employees. Each includes annual wage increases and solid benefits, and we expect those covered to be better off financially." End of update.
Two contracts covering different groups of AT&T workers, AT&T Midwest and AT&T Legacy T, have expired, and workers have decided to stay on the job while new contracts are negotiated. Workers under these contracts had previously stated that they were willing to go on strike if it became necessary to negotiate satisfactory terms for new contracts, and that is still the case. According to the Communication Workers of America, its members under these AT&T contracts are still on the job, but the resounding consensus is that these parties will not accept terms that do not reflect AT&T's financial state under the new Trump administration tax bill. The two contracts expired over the weekend.
To recap, AT&T workers and the Communication Workers of America spoke up as the contracts came close to their end, laying out in no uncertain terms that they wanted to see new contracts honor the promises that AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson made regarding the passage of the Trump administration's new tax bill, which benefits large businesses and the upper class to a great degree. With such a large tax cut in hand, the workers said, the company would be more than able to afford keeping workers on, shifting more work back to employees and away from cheaper outside contractors, along with giving employees more benefits. Should these criteria not be met or contract negotiations otherwise fall through, a full strike of all workers on the two contracts has been authorized, and will commence. Given the scope and nature of the contracts, AT&T's nationwide operations in regards to technical work and customer service would be greatly harmed by such a strike.
All of this comes just after a somewhat similar situation that resulted in one of the largest walkouts in wireless history. AT&T and its workers were at a stalemate in negotiations for a good while before the strike, and it spurred AT&T to accept terms imposed by the CWA and its own workers. While it's unlikely that AT&T will risk another strike now that the company has seen the collective might of the CWA realized once, the company is reportedly offering unsatisfactory terms as of now, which means that change must happen in order to avoid another strike.