Why 20,000 AT&T Workers Are on Strike Across the Southeastern U.S.

AT&T workers across the southeastern U.S. went on strike beginning at midnight Saturday alleging AT&T management engaged in unfair labor practices during contract negotiations.The strike involves more than 20,000 employees of Dallas-based AT&T that are unionized under the Communications Workers of America – a union representing workers in telecom, media, airlines and other lines of work.CWA said it has filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board against AT&T for not bargaining in good faith.Those 20,000 workers include technicians, customer service representatives and others who maintain and develop AT&T's residential and business network throughout the south, according to CWA. The union said workers are striking in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.On its website, CWA District 3 said in a release that employees were "disrespected" when AT&T sent labor relations experts to the bargaining table whom lacked authority to make decisions in contract negotiations.The statement also alleges that AT&T changed an agreement regarding how the two parties meet and bargain over contracts."Our talks have stalled because it has become clear that AT&T has not sent negotiators who have the power to make decisions so we can move forward toward a new contract," CWA District 3 Vice President Richard Honeycutt said in a statement."We remain ready to sit down with union leaders to negotiate a new, improved contract for our employees. Our bargaining team is negotiating this contract with CWA leaders in the same way we have successfully done with other CWA contracts over the years. We listen, engage in substantive discussions and share proposals back and forth until we reach agreement," a spokesperson for AT&T told The Dallas Morning News.AT&T said it was prepared for a strike, and "will continue working hard to serve our customers."In Texas workers operate under a separate contract from the southeastern CWA members and have not yet begun negotiations over a new contract, according to a CWA spokesperson.The strikes come less than a week after CWA members initiated a strike in Florida and filed unfair labor charges against AT&T for "illegally disciplining members for wearing union memorabilia" and engaging in protected union activities.The CWA last met with representatives from AT&T to bargain August 20 during which it passed out proposals to bargaining committee members suggesting reduced paid sick time, increased responsibilities for some technicians, and more, according to the union."We're surprised and disappointed that union leaders would call for a strike at this point in the negotiations, particularly when we're offering terms that would help our employees," AT&T said.  Continue reading...

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