AT&T workers protest unfair labor practices

Local AT&T workers join regional strike

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Hundreds of Memphis AT&T workers went on strike Sunday. Strikers were protesting against the company for not bargaining in good faith, according to the union who represents them.

But AT&T strongly disagrees with those claims.

The strike won’t affect AT&T cell phone service but could affect UVerse cable service.

Union employees came to the headquarters location on Willett to make noise in front of their bosses, who are working in their place.

The workers joined 20,000 other AT&T employees across nine different states in the Southeast, including Mississippi.

“They're excited, they're ready for it, they're willing to walk the line and stay on the line as long as they need to,” said Shane Bell, Communication Workers of America.

The strikers are technicians who install or repair U-Verse cable devices, install fiber lines and much more. The Communication Workers of America union that represents them claims AT&T is bargaining in bad faith -- sending negotiators without the power to make decisions to the negotiating table for their new contract discussions.

The CWA has filed an unfair labor practice charge against the company.

“We just want the company to come to the table and bargain in good faith,” said Wayde Boswell, employee.

“We need somebody at the table who's going to make decisions. If you can't make decisions, why are you there? Bring us somebody there who can make those decisions,” said Bell.

AT&T released the following statement to WMC Action News 5:

“A strike is in no one’s best interest. 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.

That’s why 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 – some of whom average from $121,000 to $134,000 in total compensation – be even better off.

We’re prepared for a strike and will continue working hard to serve our customers.”

Sunday, AT&T managers who aren't represented by the union went back and forth through the picket line.

“We thought this would be a good place to make some noise and let them see what's going on,” said Boswell.

“They are attempting to do the job that these technicians do each and every day. How do you think that's going? I'd be surprised if it's going well,” said Bell.

For now, this strike has no end in sight. Union representative say their group is committed to their fight.

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