This is only the beginning — and AT&T better get ready

By Armando Zepeda

Last month, things reached a boiling point for 17,000 AT&T workers in California and Nevada. In AT&T’s latest attempt to cut corners, the company was forcing technicians to do work outside of our expertise and pay, making it harder to do our best for customers.

Overnight, through last minute phone calls, text messages, and Facebook posts, 17,000 of us mobilized to stand up for what’s right. We went on strike. AT&T may have billions of dollars and an army of corporate spin artists and lobbyists, but it’s no match for what we have — the strength that comes from standing together and having the determination to see this fight through.

Instead of putting on my uniform and driving into work, I headed for the picket line and joined thousands of coworkers, many of whom I’d never met before. It didn’t matter where you were from or whether you worked in the field or in a call center. At that moment, we were one force standing up for our jobs, our customers and our families.

But we’re not done. For nearly a year, AT&T technicians and call center workers on the West Coast have been working without a contract. And instead of working with us on a fair agreement that would protect our jobs and give us the resources we need to do what’s best for customers, the company has been dragging its feet. We are the backbone of what makes AT&T successful. We work hard to provide customers with the tools they need to stay connected, installing and maintaining the phone and internet infrastructure everyone relies on for reliable service, and standing by 24/7 in call centers to help our communities any way we can.

For many of us, this is deeply personal. I am a parent and have two teenagers. Like any parent, I want my children to have access to good jobs that give them a fair shot at the American Dream. That’s really what we’re fighting for at AT&T. We’re fighting for the American Dream and we’re fighting to protect middle class jobs.

We are emboldened by our successful strike and we will do what it takes to settle our contract. Here’s some of what we are planning:

  • On April 9, the one year anniversary of the expiration of our contract, thousands of AT&T workers from California and Nevada will come together for our biggest rally yet in San Jose. We’ll be joined by our customers, neighbors, elected officials, union leaders and more to tell AT&T we won’t back down until we win a fair contract.
  • AT&T’s annual shareholder meeting is coming up. In the middle of this fanfare and corporate “rah-rah”, expect to see the faces and hear the voices of the men and women that AT&T is working to undermine.
  • We’ll continue to expose how AT&T has failed to live up to its promises of high-speed internet and cutting-edge infrastructure. Our communities depend on AT&T to keep them connected in the digital age. But as customers in California and Nevada know first-hand, this responsibility has been far from upheld. We are not given the tools to meet these commitments.
  • We’ll be joining our brothers and sisters from AT&T’s Mobility and DIRECTV divisions around the country to show the company we’re one AT&T workforce, willing to do whatever it takes to protect good-paying, middle class jobs and stop AT&T from shortchanging our communities and families. In California and Nevada, approximately 2,300 DIRECTV technicians and warehouse workers are also fighting for their first contract with AT&T. Our recent strike and the Verizon strike last year showed AT&T and the country that when workers come together, we can’t be beat.
  • And nationwide, 21,000 workers who keep AT&T’s wireless division running are united with us for a contract that supports good American jobs in retail, call centers and for technicians, calling on AT&T to stop outsourcing tens of thousands of wireless jobs from our communities and support our efforts to give customers the service they deserve.

Big business executives like to brag about how many jobs they create. Yet at the polls and in the streets, Americans have said they’re tired of getting a raw deal in an economy that puts narrow corporate interests ahead of the livelihoods of working moms and dads. When 17,000 of us stood arm in arm last month standing up for our jobs, the reality of the situation was easy to see: those on the picket line fighting for the American worker are the real job creators. And we’re just getting started.

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