AT&T Job Cuts Have Continued As It Abandons Midwest Communities

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AT&T has not upheld its promises to create more jobs across the board in the wake of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2018, legislation it lobbied to pass. In fact, specifically in Midwest America, the company has gone in completely the opposite direction according to a series of new reports from the Communications Workers of America (CWA) labor union.

Centering on service quality and the number of jobs available over the past two years in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin, the reports detail a severe drop in employment opportunities.

In Indiana, for example, the CWA reports that AT&T has cut its call center workforce over that period by as much as 61-percent. Outside plant technician employment has gone from 1,078 to 876 workers. Total wireline workforce reductions, including the above-mentioned jobs plus administration and inside technicians, have fallen in at 20-percent, going from approximately 1,632 workers to 1,302 workers.

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In Michigan, both outside plant technician jobs and wireline workforce have fallen by 26-percent while call center jobs are down 46-percent. For Ohio, those figures fall in at 20-percent, 21-percent, and half, respectively. Finally, jobs in Wisconsin in the first category have been reduced by 26-percent and its wireline workforce by 23-percent. Wisconsin's call center jobs at AT&T are down 21-percent over the past two years.

AT&T has, in effect, cut its workforce in those areas alone and in just those four states by at least 2,453 jobs over the course of two years.

It's not just jobs and is in spite of record profitability, growth, and new partnerships

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As reported in early 2019, all of that is in spite of record growth and profitability for the company due to a massive tax break from the aforementioned tax break. CWA reports that since a 2017 iteration of the bill passed, affording AT&T a $21 billion windfall with projections of $3 billion in annual tax savings in proceeding years, the company has eliminated as many as 23,000 jobs.

It's also improved executive pay, cut investments by as much as $1.4 billion, and avoided paying any cash income taxes — with tax refunds included. The company issued a statement following earlier reports from the CWA, indicating that it is hiring but that the hiring is going towards areas of the business that are growing.

More directly, the company said it had hired more than 20,000 new employees in 2018 and more than 17,000 the year before. AT&T also claims it has worked to dampen the effect of 'workforce adjustments' on employees.

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Despite the company's promises, however, the CWA claims that the layoffs aren't just impacting employees, with complaints compiled from residents of the four states outlining how service quality has suffered too.

As many as 6,000 informal complaints against AT&T from consumers have been gathered by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio alone. At least one account from Indiana, shared by the CWA, highlights the question of how AT&T could be allowed to 'cut off' its customers from the rest of the world.

Forget the strikes, it's time to gain the attention of elected officials

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The CWA, contrary to previous actions it has taken against each of the wireless carriers in the US, does not appear to be leading calls for a strike. Instead, the organization is calling on residents of the four states in question to come forward and share their own story about interactions with AT&T in a bid to garner the attention of elected officials — many of whom have already expressed concern about the company's activity.