AT&T job cuts loom over bargaining with Communications Workers
Workers from CWA Local 6143. | via CWA

AUSTIN, Texas (PAI)—Past and planned job cuts at AT&T are looming over bargaining between the big telecom and the Communications Workers, who represent its employees.

That’s because contrary to promises by AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson at the time GOP President Donald Trump and the GOP congressional majority enacted their $1.7 trillion tax cut for corporations and the rich, AT&T shed 37,800 workers since the measure became law. That includes 4,040 in the last three months of 2019.

The latest job cut, of 200 technicians in California, occurred on Valentine’s Day. On Feb. 21, CWA’s contract with AT&T Southwest Mobility, covering 8,000 workers in Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Arkansas, will expire. Bargaining over a new pact for them started in Austin, Texas, on Feb. 4.

And under pressure from a rapacious hedge fund which is only interested in devouring the firm, and not in either its service or its workers, AT&T seeks to cut even more jobs—while using added profits it reaped from the tax cut to spend $30 billion to buy back its own stock, thus lining the hedge fund’s pockets.

The hedge fund, Elliott Management, is also strong-arming AT&T into selling off assets. AT&T recently announced it would unload its Puerto Rico-Virgin Islands affiliate, FirstNet, to a weak and unknown Latin American telecom, jeopardizing 900 union jobs in the U.S. territory beset by natural disasters, joblessness double or triple the national rate, and high poverty.

In short, Wall Street-driven crooked corporate capitalism at its worst.

“The list of communities being destroyed all across America continues to grow with the elimination of jobs at AT&T, despite promises of job creation from company executives,” CWA President Chris Shelton said in a statement before bargaining began.

“To make matters worse, AT&T is using its profits to enrich wealthy shareholders instead of investing in building the next generation networks that Americans, especially in rural and underserved areas, desperately need. CWA members and our allies will keep fighting until the company stops eliminating jobs so they can provide high-quality service customers deserve.”

The union also pointed out AT&T’s capital expenditures—money spent to repair and upgrade its system and plants, including broadband—declined by more than $1 billion in 2019, compared to 2018. That discourages and confuses the workers, the union said.

“AT&T keeps saying Mobility is the future of its business, and the future of communication, video, and content. Instead of recognizing the value a well-trained, experienced, union workforce brings, company executives just talk about the need for more cutbacks on labor costs,” the lead bargainer for the AT&T Southwest workers, staff rep Jason Vellmer, said in a statement.

The union had to set up informational picket lines in front of the bargaining site in Austin. It seeks “wage and benefit increases and a commitment to keeping good, family-supporting jobs in the region.”

“The employees of Mobility handle every technology offered to consumers and play a critical role in AT&T’s core business. It’s time for the company to stop focusing so much on pumping up its stock price and focus on investing in its employees and the next generation networks our communities need.”



Press Associates Union News Service provides national coverage of news affecting workers, including activism, politics, economics, legislation in Congress and actions by the White House, federal agencies and the courts that affect working people. Mark Gruenberg is Editor in chief and owner of Press Associates Union News Service, Washington, D.C.