It comes after 10 weeks of failed contract negotiations.
The protestors are members of the Communications Workers of America Union. They’re also the people who help local AT&T customers with telephone and Internet service.
“I’d rather be working overtime, feeding my family,” said Allen Foote, who’s been at AT&T technician for 20 years. “Instead, I’m here on the picket line, because this is important for our future. I have three children. It’s tough with all the health care costs and everything.”
They’re fighting for a better wage, fair contract, and to stop what they call “consistent job cuts.”
“Here in Milwaukee, we have seen nothing but a steady loss of jobs for many, many years,” said George Walls, the local branch president of Communications Workers of America. “AT&T has been contracting out work, and sending call centers overseas. We want jobs returned here.”
Until an agreement is reached, AT&T customers could feel the effects of this strike.
“Any customer calling for service is going to be delayed,” Walls said. “People who need a technician to come out will also likely be delayed too.”
AT&T provided this statement in reaction to the strike:
A walkout is in nobody’s best interest, and it’s unfortunate that the union chose to do that.
This contract currently covers good-paying U.S. jobs averaging over $120,000 a year in pay and benefits, with some making over $200,000. After over 10 weeks of negotiations, we have presented a final offer to the union’s negotiating team at the bargaining table with a goal of bringing this process to a close and reaching a fair agreement for our employees. We’re offering a generous package including annual wage increases, continuation of job security provisions that are virtually unheard of in the U.S., and comprehensive healthcare and retirement benefits. In addition, the offer includes a commitment to hire 1,000 people in the region. All employees covered by the offer would be better off.
We’re very prepared to continue serving customers. We’re a customer service company and we plan for all contingencies, whether related to weather, natural disasters, or even work stoppages.