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AT&T Southeast Bargaining Report #3

Today the AT&T Southeast and Utility Operations bargaining teams met with the company to begin the bargaining process.  The day kicked off with opening statements from CWA District 3 Vice President, Richard Honeycutt and AT&T Southeast Labor Relations Vice President, Diane Bradley.  CWA Retired Members Council President Emeritus, James Starr spoke on behalf of the retired CWA members. Following opening statements and introductions, we started bargaining.  

The CWA/AT&T Southeast bargaining team met with the company and passed several proposals.  A few of them are - Bringing Wire Techs into the Core Contract as Service Technicians, Improving healthcare benefits for both employees and retirees, Significant wage increases with a cost of living adjustment (COLA).  As expected, the company passed retrogressive proposals including - Reducing the amount of paid sick time, Removing the grievance panel process, and Eliminating reimbursements for some of the relocation expenses.  

The bargaining team wants to thank everyone across District 3 for the awesome pictures that have been shared over the last couple of days of the mobilization efforts, and for all the kind words of encouragement. Remember, WE ARE HERE FOR YOU! 

CWA District 3 Vice President, Richard Honeycutt's Opening Remarks  

Today, as we officially open up negotiations, the Union and the Company recognize that it is in the best interest of both parties, Union members and Company employees, as well as the public for these negotiations to be conducted in the spirit of mutual responsibility and respect.  During these negotiations, this bargaining team and all of the CWA members working under this contract, have an expectation that you, AT&T, will recognize them and the vital role that they play in making AT&T the company that they are today.  While we do acknowledge that good leadership is an important part of any company to be successful, we do not believe that AT&T would have the success it has had if it were not for CWA members.  CWA members are the face of AT&T, the representatives to the public, the ones who are in direct contact with the customers.   

CWA members have worked hard for this company and have gone above and beyond to ensure that a customer had service, that their billing issue was resolved or that they were receiving the products that met their needs. Throughout the years I have seen things change.  There was a time that as an employee I felt like I was part of a team, almost a family.  I worked for the “phone company” and felt a certain pride when I would tell people what I did and who I worked for.  I knew that I had a job that people respected and that it brought a certain amount of trust from the community.  With this job, I knew that I would be able to raise my family and enjoy a good quality of life.  And this was the case for many years.  

During these years the company was very profitable and continued to make even the stockholders happy.  Times have changed.  I constantly hear from members who are not proud to say who they work for and who experience no work/life balance.  I can remember when fellow members would talk about coaching their children’s baseball or football team.  Today, we have members who are not able to even watch their children’s games, let alone try to be part of them.  The quality of life as an employee of AT&T has taken a severe hit.  This is shameful and we must find a way to restore it.   

While the pay has slowly risen throughout the years, it has now been outpaced by many other industries.  What was once a well-paying job has now become an average or in some cases, below average paying job.  Here is a quote that I recently read.  

“The company shared a market analysis of several other telecom providers and tech companies and concluded that Stankey's total target compensation of $21.5 million that he agreed to in 2020 "was falling behind that of market peers." The committee reviewing his pay boosted his long-term target as well as that of other executive officers at the corporation. “ 

We feel the same way.  Our members’ pay has fallen behind and we expect this to be boosted during this round of bargaining.  As we have seen, CEOs come and go, it is our members who have been loyal to this company and are the ones who deserve to be properly compensated.   

Another issue that we must address is that of job security and adding more jobs.  We have seen the workforce slowly dwindle throughout the years while at the same time the number of contractors has risen.   This must stop.  You know and we know that CWA members provide the highest quality and most reliable work available.  They are trained and equipped to perform work that the company is using contractors for and there is no reason why they should not have the work.     

The Union, through its membership, plays a vital role in the overall success of the Company's operations. The bargaining team stands united today and recognizes this vital role and has come in the spirit of good faith, to reclaim our member’s rightful part of that great success. In case you haven’t heard from your management team, this bargaining team is backed by thousands of Union members in District 3, myself and all of CWA who are tired of seeing their brothers and sisters put down, harassed, and treated as a number and not as a human being with families. We start this bargaining session demanding AT&T to show our hard-working members the respect and loyalty they deserve. This can be done through better wages, benefits, improved work rules, and job

security. We demand that you give work to YOUR employees, CWA members not the employees of other companies. 

The unity and might of District 3 will show the world the truth about AT&T. Our unity and solidarity will be felt and remembered for years to come, we are change, we are District 3, and we are here to “Fight For More In 24!”