Approximately 1,400 AT&T workers in Wisconsin walked off the job around noon Thursday.
This strike is happening at AT&T locations in four other Midwest states: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio.
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.