Update: AT&T has reached out with the following statement " We have a good relationship with our unions and a long history of bargaining – 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. A strike vote is a common and not unexpected step in negotiations of this sort. We’re continuing to bargain with the union and we’re confident that an agreement will be reached." End of update
AT&T just got over what amounted to an all-out war between its employees and its corporate arm, and now a new round of strikes is set to begin if the new terms for two expiring contracts are not satisfactory. While no concrete plans to strike are laid out yet, workers and advocates have essentially let the company know in no uncertain terms that they do not plan to tolerate subpar terms. The specific contracts in question are AT&T Midwest, which covers employees in Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin, and Legacy T, which covers certain classes of employees under certain terms nationwide. As with the previous strikes and rebellions, this latest preparation for a potential battle is being made in partnership with the Communication Workers of America. The CWA is a coalition that represents a wide swath of ground-level communications employees across industries in the United States, including installers, outdoor salespeople, and call center workers, to name a few.
According to CWA District 4 Vice President, the crux of what AT&T workers and the CWA are looking for in this renegotiation is for AT&T's investment in its workforce to reflect tax breaks granted in a fairly new bill introduced by the Trump administration. The bill, much like other economic policies under Trump, follows trickle-down economics by granting massive tax breaks to large corporations and individuals who earn large amounts of money, among other effects. As such, the new bill stands to save AT&T a substantial amount in taxes, which workers and the CWA hope to see reflected as pay raises for ground-level employees, more jobs filled, and better job security.
AT&T had a long and drawn out struggle with its workers and the CWA last year, culminating in what would become one of the largest strikes in the history of the wireless industry, which finally spurred the carrier to approve new contract terms for workers. With the memories of those battles fresh in minds high on the AT&T ladder, things are likely to be far less forceful this time around. This goes double since the contracts in question are expiring, leaving them ripe for seamless negotiation and change without having to interrupt anything, prorate changed pay or fees, or otherwise go through any of the hassles that are normally associated with changing or cancelling a contract that's currently active on a massive scale.