A group of Detroit marchers protesting as part of today's Tax March 2018 in Washington D.C. called out AT&T over the layoffs it conducted late last year, with the wireless carrier's former call center employee Merle Milton asserting the company broke its promise to create 7,000 new jobs if the GOP successfully passed its now-enacted tax plan. The move that already resulted in one labor union lawsuit is being described by the protestors as a broken promise and the firm's latest attempt to outsource its workforce while eliminating "good, middle-class jobs." The protestors are accusing AT&T of "devastating families and communities across America," having called for the company to stop divesting its stateside operations and cutting operating costs by refocusing its assets on overseas contractors. "Don’t believe the union’s rhetoric; what they consistently fail to point out is that we have chosen to hire nearly 87,000 people in the U.S. in the last three years, including over 52,000 union-represented employees," AT&T spokesman Marty Richter told AndroidHeadlines in an emailed statement.
Just over a year ago, AT&T Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson said the tax cut may spur more investment in the industry but the company's latest financial report shows limited movement on that front, as do those from its rivals, some of whom previously expressed similar sentiments. Besides hurting American workers, the protestors believe AT&T's cost-cutting efforts are also jeopardizing its long-term success, describing their overseas replacements as "undertrained." The protest is also meant to put pressure on AT&T Midwest and its Legacy T unit that are presently negotiating with Communications Workers of America over new employment contracts after the old ones expired on Saturday, with the employees in question now threatening to strike if no progress is soon made at the negotiating table. "Last year alone, we hired over 17,000 people in the U.S., including over 14,000 hired into union-represented jobs, and we’re currently looking to fill over 4,200 more jobs, including over 1,500 union-represented jobs; these are solid careers with competitive pay and great benefits," Mr. Richter argues.
AT&T previously committed to investing $1 billion into the United States over 2018 if the now-enacted tax bill was passed but never clarified how much it would invest if it wasn't. The company paid cash bonuses to some 200,000 employees earlier this year, describing the move as a direct benefit of the bill in question. "With tax reform in mind, the Company [AT&T] 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," Mr. Richter said, clarifying that none of those commitments were directly related to the aforementioned $1 billion figure that's meant to be a separate investment.