Major carrier AT&T is about to have its annual shareholder meeting crashed by angry workers again, and this time, the workers have already pre-authorized a strike. The big shareholder meeting that's set to take place early Friday is set to be center stage for yet another protest involving hundreds or even thousands of workers, just like what happened last year. Rather than concern over contract terms and outsourcing, however, it was layoffs in the face of promises to the contrary that sparked this large protest. The meeting is set to begin at AT&T's Dallas, Texas headquarters at 9:00 AM Central Daylight Time, whereas the protest's start time is 7:30 AM, with an end time of 10:00 AM.
There are expired contracts involved in this protest, to be sure; about 14,000 of them across two different contracts, one of which covers workers spread out nationwide. The big concern here, however, lies with CEO Randall Stephenson's promises regarding the Trump administration's new tax law set, which is meant to put billions back in large businesses' pockets, which should then, in theory, trickle down to the working class in various ways. For AT&T's part, every $1 billion in savings on taxes under the new plan is supposed to create 7,000 jobs here in America. Just a while after the bill came into law, however, the company was hit by a massive wave of layoffs that left about 1,500 workers jobless, according to data pulled by the Communication Workers of America. Similar data from the agency points to a pattern of layoffs and closures that hit call center employees particularly hard, closing up 44 locations and alienating some 16,000 workers over the last 7 years. The Midwest, an area covered by one of the two contracts currently up for renewal, is an area that the CWA says is particularly ravaged by AT&T's outsourcing and job elimination.
"What the union consistently fails to point out is that we have chosen to hire over 87,000 people in the U.S. in the last three years, including 17,000 in 2017 alone.; and we're currently looking to fill thousands more this year," an AT&T spokesperson said in a statement. "When tax reform was announced late last year we made $200 million in bonus payments to our frontline employees, an $800 million funding of our employee and retiree medical trust, and a nearly $100 million funding of our AT&T charitable foundation."