Find a Picket Line Near You Here
Rank and file members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) will potentially walk off the job, upwards of 21,000 strong, if their demands for a better contract are not met on Friday, May 19th, at 3pm EST. According to the CWA, the strike will last three days and some workers in other companies will also be showing solidarity.
The issues raised by the potential strike hit a chord with workers across the US, as employees demand decent wages, affordable benefits, and job security in the face of outsourcing to other retailers who pay less. While this outsourcing has led to an attack on US workers, it has also in turn led to worsening conditions for call centers in overseas countries and booming profits for big corporations. Global capitalism is a race to the bottom where we all lose, including the environment and our communities who are impacted by corporate globalization. Despite the tough talk from both corporate parties, all Trump and the Democrats have done is accelerate this process. As one AT&T worker wrote:
I’ve worked the past 13 years at AT&T, yet my future at this company is unclear. AT&T keeps sending our jobs to third-party retailers, where workers make even less and don’t have union protections like my coworkers and me. My co-workers at AT&T call centers worry more of their jobs will be sent overseas. It feels like the company is trying to send a message that they don’t need us.
There is no work-life balance. Management is constantly changing our schedules — as if we’re robots! — to benefit the company’s bottom line, not the workers who make AT&T more than $1 billion each month. I leave 45 minutes early every day just to make sure I’m not penalized for even a second of late attendance, which can result in “points” on my record that could ultimately jeopardize my job.
If we strike, we’re following in the footsteps of our brothers and sisters at Verizon who last year went on strike for 49 days and won big improvements for themselves and their families. It sent a message that corporate giants can be beat if working people stick together.
But while AT&T has been hard at work attacking workers, it’s CEO Randall Stephenson made over $28 million dollars in 2016, an increase of 13%. Meanwhile, AT&T employees saw their earnings capped while the company made moves to raise the costs of their health care. Currently, AT&T is offering only a 2% raise over the next contract, not even enough to cover the increased cost in medical care that workers would be expected to pay.
Union leaders have also attempted to keep strikes isolated, either by trying to keep CWA members out of the Verizon strike last year or out of the 1,700 strong IBEW strike that recently took place in New York. The CWA union has also held back on calling for a strike until now, allowing some workers to work for upwards of a year without a contract. In March, as anger rose, CWA put workers out on a one-day strike in California and Nevada. What we need to do is to build collective power both across industries and in our communities.
In many ways, the Verizon strike showed glimpses of this, as it lasted for 49 days, and grew to include extensive acts of sabotage and clashes at times with scabs at various stores. Workers across the US stood up for themselves and fought many of the same things that AT&T workers now fight against. Only by coming together, not only as community members, but also as workers, will we be able to put the kind of pressure that is needed to force the hand of these multi-national corporations who are banking on our exploitation and precarity.
Let’s let CWA workers across the US who may be going on strike for the first time know that we support them. That their fight against attacks on their wages, benefits, and jobs are an opportunity for us all to fight back and also show solidarity with each other. Find a picket line near you and show support.
Make banners, bring snacks and water to share, walk the picket lines, talk to people, offer to help out, make plans, make friends, and get ready for what lies ahead.