Local AT&T workers walk out over what CWA calls an unfair labor practice

YOUNGSTOWN — Local AT&T workers represented by the Communications Workers of America walked out today to protest what CWA characterizes as an unfair labor practice issue with AT&T, a CWA Local 4300 representative said.

The walkout involves about 90 technicians, central office employees and mechanics at locations on Salt Springs Road, on U.S. Route 224 in Boardman, and in Niles, Salem and East Liverpool, Local 4300 President Richard Schrader said.

“We’ve walked out on an unfair labor practice issue with AT&T,” Schrader said. “They have contacted our membership directly without our bargaining team to try to negotiate a contract.”

The CWA is in contract negotiations with AT&T on behalf of workers in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin, and other local unions in the Midwest walked out Thursday over the same issue.

An AT&T representative responded to the walkout, saying, “A walkout is not in anybody’s best interest, and it’s unfortunate that the union chose to do that.”

“This contract currently covers good-paying U.S. jobs averaging over $120,000 a year in pay and benefits, with some making over $200,000. After over 10 weeks of negotiations, we have presented a final offer to the union’s negotiating team at the bargaining table with a goal of bringing this process to a close and reaching a fair agreement for our employees,” continued spokeswoman Holly Hollingsworth.

She said the company is offering a “generous package” and has committed to hiring 1,000 people in the region.

“We’re very prepared to continue serving customers. We’re a customer service company and we plan for all contingencies, whether related to weather, natural disasters, or even work stoppages,” she said.

In response to CWA’s claim about AT&T contacting members directly, she said, “We presented the offer to the union’s negotiating team at the bargaining table, and we’ll continue to discuss with the union. After we presented terms to the union at the bargaining table, we communicated them to our employees, as permitted by law.”

Schrader said CWA wants AT&T to come back to the bargaining table, but until then the walkout will continue.

“As soon as they notify us they’ll go back to the table, we’ll go back to work” and bargain in good faith, he said.

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