On Saturday, hundreds of CWAers rallied at the AT&T building in downtown Detroit to send a message to the telecom giant: No jobs, no deal.
CWA President Chris Shelton, CWA District 4 Vice President Linda L. Hinton, Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), and Michigan gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer joined workers and allies at the rally to call on AT&T to negotiate a fair contract that keeps good, family-supporting jobs in their communities.
"AT&T, are you listening? You're not getting a deal in District 4 unless it comes along with jobs," President Shelton said. "When the tax deal was being proposed, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson was out every single day, every place he could be, saying that for every billion dollars that AT&T saved in tax money, they would hire 7,000 people. What he didn't say was that they were going to hire them in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Philippines, and India, because that's the only place where they're hiring anybody. We cannot get a deal unless they live up to their promises and bring jobs back to the Midwest."
Before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed, AT&T promised that corporations would use their massive windfall from the bill to raise wages and create thousands of good jobs. Instead, just days after the tax bill became law, the company announced that it was closing its Detroit call center, leaving more than 100 workers – each with over 15 years of service at the company – without a job.
Former AT&T call center worker for 25 years and CWA Local 4004 President Merle Milton of Detroit called out the company for recent layoffs in Michigan and across the country. "Last year AT&T laid off thousands of people including right here in Detroit. These jobs are important for Detroit and we can't afford to lose them. We're organized and we're going to fight back. We're ready to do whatever it takes. No jobs, no deal," Milton said.
"We have 10,000 workers here in the Midwest, and our numbers have diminished quite a bit over the last three years of this contract. That's why the jobs issue is so important," said District 4 Vice President Linda L. Hinton. "There are other issues as important – healthcare and employment security – but it doesn't do any good if we have good wages and good healthcare if we don't have any jobs.”
Midwest workers and communities have been particularly hard hit by call center closures and layoffs as AT&T shifts jobs to overseas contractors, with more than 2,300 layoffs in the past three years alone. Nationally, jobs numbers at AT&T are down 29,000 from two years ago.
CWA members covered by the Midwest and Legacy T contracts have voted to authorize a strike if the company refuses to invest in U.S. workers and jobs.
Hundreds of CWAers rallied at the AT&T building in downtown Detroit to send a message to the telecom giant: No jobs, no deal.