Detroit - AT&T workers represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) kicked off a multi-state "Broken Promises Tour," calling attention to the impact of ongoing job losses and offshoring in communities across the Midwest. The tour begins today with a press conference and roundtable in Detroit, where AT&T workers will be joined by local labor leaders to call out AT&T for continuing to cut U.S. jobs in the wake of the GOP tax bill.
Before the Republican tax plan passed, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson pledged that if the tax cut passed, the company would spend at least $1 billion in capital expenditures and be able to create "7,000 good jobs for the middle class." Instead, despite $20 billion in tax savings, a new CWA analysis based on AT&T's Q2 earnings report estimates that the company has eliminated over 7,000 jobs since January 2018 when the tax cuts took effect. The company's latest quarterly earnings report reveals nearly $10 billion in profits in the first half of this year and indicates that AT&T is increasing its spending on share buybacks to the highest level since 2014.
Following today's events in Detroit, AT&T workers will make stops in Toledo, OH; Columbus, OH; Bloomington, IN; Kansas City, MO and other cities in the region that are experiencing the effects of AT&T's job cuts. At each stop, the workers will join with former AT&T employees whose jobs were eliminated and elected officials and community leaders who are taking a stand against AT&T's outsourcing and offshoring. They will also visit the district offices of members of Congress, sharing information about AT&T's job cuts and urging them to hold AT&T accountable. Along the way, workers will be gathering signatures on a petition urging the company to invest in jobs here in the U.S.
The workers will wrap up their trip in Dallas, TX, home to AT&T's headquarters, where they will deliver the petition and demand that the telecom giant make good on its promises to American workers.
"I worked at AT&T for 15 years, and I loved my job" said Kelly Clay, who was laid off in 2017, along with many of her coworkers, and is participating in the tour. "It's getting harder and harder to find good jobs. Many of us are struggling to make ends meet. AT&T makes big promises to American workers. But in places like Kansas City, they've broken those promises time and again."
The tour comes as CWA has launched radio ads across the Midwest and in Dallas highlighting how AT&T used its tax break to enrich executives rather than create jobs and raise wages for American workers.
"Big corporations like AT&T and those running for office need to know that working people in America won't be forgotten," said Jeremy Bain, who has worked at AT&T's call center in Saginaw, MI for 14 years and is participating in the tour. "Our families and communities have been left behind by companies like AT&T that line their pockets offshoring U.S. jobs and collecting big tax breaks. It's time for AT&T to invest in the workers and communities that have made the company successful."
A recent report from CWA found that AT&T has closed 44 call centers and eliminated 16,000 call center jobs in the last seven years. The Midwest has been particularly hard hit by closures and layoffs in recent years.
"In 2011, AT&T shuttered the call center I worked at for 11 years, despite our area manager's assurance that there was plenty of work to keep the center open," said Laheelah Hunter, who has worked at AT&T for almost 19 years and is joining the tour." I was lucky to find another job at AT&T here in Cleveland, but many of my co-workers uprooted lives and even divided their families to 'follow the work' to the Detroit center. And guess what? Now those families are being faced with more hard choices because AT&T has closed that center too. I'm joining the Broken Promises Tour to hold AT&T accountable. I don't want to continue to lose colleagues to layoffs or outsourcing from a multibillion dollar company that owes its success to its workers."
CWA has been leading the charge to hold AT&T and other corporations accountable to their tax bill promises by publicly challenging them to reveal their spending plans for the tax windfall. CWA and other major unions filed information requests at over five companies and took action against companies like AT&T over its broken tax bill promises.
CWA has also been at the forefront of efforts to ensure that elected officials are addressing the issues that matter to working families, driving critical conversations about jobs, the economy, and corporate accountability at the local, state, and federal level. Union members are channeling their anger into action at their workplaces, in the streets, and at the ballot box.
14,000 AT&T workers with CWA – including many in key midwestern swing states – are poised to strike if the company refuses to commit to protecting U.S. jobs.
About CWA: The Communications Workers of America represents 700,000 working men and women in telecommunications, customer service, media, airlines, public service and manufacturing.