Support AT&T Workers

by CWA member Cindi Chesters


I may be on strike Friday along with 38,000 of my coworkers at AT&T if we haven’t won a fair union contract by then. I’m a single parent of four and there is a lot on the line for me. My kids are the reason I’m fighting so hard and why I’m ready to do whatever I have to do to make sure they have a good life. We hope to avoid having to strike, but we may have to make that sacrifice to make sure our livelihoods are secure.

Please stand with us. Click here to email AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson now and demand that he settle a union contract that protects good jobs.

I work at an AT&T retail store, but the company wants to keep closing stores and instead send work to third-party dealers where workers make super low-wages and don’t have the union protections we have. Meanwhile, my co-workers at AT&T call centers worry that their jobs will be sent overseas.

CEO Stephenson made $28.4 million last year, while he cut our commissions, which meant I took home less pay than the year before. This fight is about making sure working people can make a decent living in this country. We are up against unaccountable corporations that are working us harder for less in order to pad their bottom line.

As the only income for a family of five, my budget is tight as it is, and the money I may lose if I go on strike isn’t something I take lightly. That’s why I’ve been preparing, saving money, stocking up on groceries, and making a plan.

Please take action and send a message to the CEO that you support workers fighting for their livelihoods.

There is too much on the table for us to sit back and let the company take advantage of us anymore. We want to be treated like human beings.

If we strike, we’re following in the footsteps of our brothers and sisters at Verizon who last year struck for 49 days and won big improvements for themselves, their families, and sent a message that corporate giants can be beat if working people stick together.

Thank you for your support. If we strike, we’ll be back in touch with more information about how you can support us on a picket line near you. Until then, I hope you’ll email CEO Stephenson to make sure he knows his customers and members of the community have our back.

Thank you for listening to my story,

Cindi Chesters
AT&T Sales Support Representative, Shelton, CT

Telecoms Take Hard Line on Union Contract Talks

By Seth Sandronsky

Communications Workers of America

Communications Workers of America (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Forty three thousand AT&T wireline employees, members of  Communications Workers of America, could be striking this summer if AT&T holds to its position that certain workers must take pay cuts and decreased health and retirement benefits.

The workers’ four CWA-AT&T contracts in the East, Midwest and West expired on April 7. Bargaining continues.

The economic gap is wide and speaks to the gulf between the 99% and top 1%. AT&T seeks changes to wages, costs for health care and pensions and workplace rules, according to Sara Steffens, a CWA staffer with District 9. Leaving one to conclude that lower-paid workers will likely bear the brunt of cuts, AT&T spokesperson Marty Richter said, “We’re committed to working together with the union to bargain a contract that will allow us to continue to provide and protect high quality middle-class careers for our employees.”

The company is not proposing to cut the wages of call center representatives or network technicians, according to Richter. While declining to state the specifics of AT&T’s wage proposals, it appears that the company is seeking pay cuts for other CWA workers under new, lower-cost contracts. AT&T also seeks to change the benefits of employees covered under current CWA contracts. One benefit of no small matter is health care insurance. According to Richter, AT&T employees under CWA contracts have health-care costs “in the lowest one percent of surveyed companies.” Continue reading

The Killing Towers of the US Telecom Industry

by Bob Simpson

He fell 120 feet to the ground while dismantling an unused communications tower in Lincoln, Illinois on June 8, 2005. Although identified only as employee #1 in the official OSHA report, he was 43 year old Toby Wheale of Glendale, AZ. Wheale’s employer, Wireless Horizon Inc. of Lincoln IL, was fined $750. The head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) once called tower climbing “the most dangerous job in America.” Apparently $750 was the worth of this person’s life in the communications industry.

A total of 100 people died falling from communication towers between 2003-2011. Of these, 50 fell from cell phone towers. The worst carnage was between 2006-2008 when the iPhone rollout caused a spike in phone traffic that ATT had not anticipated and a major overhaul of the system was required.  The death rate for tower climbers is about 10 times that of construction workers.

Tower climbing in the telecom industry is non-union.
Cell tower

Many of us wake up to our cell phones and even go to sleep with them at night. We talk, text, browse the web, listen to music, take photos, shoot videos, record notes, check the time and so much more. The first commercial US cellular phone system was set up in Chicago in 1983. As of 2011, there were more mobile phones than people in the USA and approximately 280,000 cellular phone tower sites around the nation.

People are aware that cellular phone use while driving can be deadly. But there is another type of fatality involving cell phones that has received almost no attention, the deaths of tower climbers who install and upgrade cellular technology. A driver yakking carelessly on a cell phone can be a death foretold; so can a corporation demanding that workers climb towers hundreds of feet high on impossible deadlines without proper safety enforcement and training.

But now tower climbers are speaking out. As one climber put it: “People have no idea what we go through on a day to day basis to give them that service when they hold their cell phones.”

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Historic Victory for AT&T Workers!

By Roger Sikes

On the  morning of March 26 Atlanta Jobs with Justice, Communications Workers of America Local 3204 and Occupy Atlanta united to declare victories. The groups announced a historic victory in preventing over 255 layoffs at AT&T, a result of community and worker pressure. AT&T workers whose jobs were saved by the campaign as well as key organizers will speak out. Following the press conference, the coalition of groups will close the 42 day long tent occupation.


AT&T workers had previously received a letter from the company in December 2011 informing them that there would be 740 layoffs in the southeast. AT&T’s announced slashing of good, middle class jobs followed an email graciously thanking its employees for creating record profits for the telecommunications giant while CEO Randall Stevenson was paid out a record $27 million.

On February 13th, activists staged a sit-in at AT&T’s Atlanta corporate offices in protest to the announced layoffs. The next day, hundreds of community supporters rallied outside the complex and launched over a month long occupation demanding that AT&T stop the layoffs and those scheduled to occur on March 15th.


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Worker ‘Occupations’ in 3 States Yield Successes, but Counterattack Begins

By Mike Elk

Mike Elk

In the last few months, workers in three different states—at the Serious Materials factory in Chicago, at a Century Aluminum factory in Ravenswood, West Va., and at AT&T’s regional headquarters in Atlanta—have engaged in “occupations” that quickly produced small results for those workers. These actions—one an actual factory occupation, the other two highly visible encampments outside company facilities—have underscored the enormous potential of direct action to give workers leverage in negotiating with employers.

But just as Congress quickly outlawed the type of auto industry sit-down strikes that were so effective during the 1930s, anti-union groups are now advocating measures to counteract the success of these recent protests. The backlash has begun: Last week, a Georgia State Senate Committee passed SB 469, which would ban picketing outside of the home of CEOs and give a company the right to ask a judge to force protesters—whether union or nonunion—to stop picketing outside of any business.

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Occupy Atlanta Activists Arrested Supporting Union Telephone Workers

Thirteen persons from Occupy Atlanta, Atlanta Jobs with Justice, and Communications Workers of America, including four members of Atlanta DSA, were arrested on Monday 13 February after sitting in at AT&T’s Atlanta headquarters.  They were protesting the company’s recent announcement of 740 planned layoffs after boasting of record profits and paying their CEO $27 million in 2011.

Atlanta has the largest wealth gap between rich and poor people, out of any major city in the US. AT&T will make that gap even larger by laying off 95 workers in Georgia and 70 in Atlanta and adding to Georgia’s 9.7 percent unemployment rate.

Seventy union members and supporters rallied outside. “There’s plenty of work out here to be done, there is a lot of forced overtime and not enough folks to do the work. AT&T needs to reduce the money going into the CEO’s and the big manager’s pockets. That money needs to go to keep people on payroll,” said Walter Andrews, President of Communications Workers of America local 3204.

Occupy Atlanta set up 15 tents in preparation for a larger rally outside the AT&T headquarters on Valentine’s Day.

Progressives Should Support The AT&T– T-Mobile Merger

by Nathan Newman

Why should progressives care about the proposed merger of AT&T with T-Mobile?   Because AT&T is the ONLY unionized wireless company in the country and the merger would ensure that 20,000+ T-Mobile workers would have the chance to join the 43,000 currently unionized AT&T Mobility employees with decent wages and legal protections on the job.

There are a range of other likely benefits from the merger, from a projected deployment of high-speed broadband to over 97% of the population and better service for existing AT&T and T-Mobile customers from more efficient integration of available spectrum from both companies.  But stepping away from the impact on consumers, which is being endlessly debated, progressives should be focusing as well on the massive gain for workers rights from the merger.

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International, US unions welcome AT&T purchase of T-Mobile

The UNI Global Union and the US Communication Workers of America each released statement yesterday welcoming the proposed AT&T purchase of T Mobile USA. Most news reports did not mention the impact on workers, a major angle of the story. Below are portions of the CWA and UNI statements.

CWA (Communication Workers of America) statement by President Larry Cohen:

Today’s announcement of the acquisition of T-Mobile USA by AT&T is a victory for broadband proponents in both the U.S. and Germany. For the U.S., it means that T-Mobile customers will get quick access to the AT&T network, soon to include LTE or data speeds of at least 10 megabits down stream. More important, as part of the deal, AT&T is committing to build out to nearly every part of the U.S. within six years. Both AT&T and T-Mobile use GSM technology so there will be the immediate benefit of shared spectrum. Other reported deals involving T-Mobile would have joined incompatible networks; not only would that have forced a rebuild but would have required new phones for T- Mobile customers.

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