If contract negotiations fall through, union members working for AT&T Southeast have voted to go on strike in Louisiana and eight other states, according to a Friday morning announcement.
The Communications Workers of America’s current contract with AT&T Southeast—which covers more than 20,000 workers in Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee—expires Aug. 3. Negotiations on a new deal have been ongoing for less than one month, with workers voicing concerns about mandatory overtime, safety and job security, among other issues.
Thursday’s vote comes one month after the telecommunications provider notified unionized workers it would cut 1,800 positions tied to landline phones, including 117 jobs across Louisiana.
In a prepared statement, Richard Honeycutt, union vice president for District 3, says CWA’s bargaining team brought forth proposals “that will ensure that AT&T does not leave communities behind in the Southeast.”
“AT&T is highly profitable and has received huge tax windfalls in the past few years,” Honeycutt says. “The company should be investing in its network and in its workforce … It should keep customer service jobs here where its customers are instead of shipping them overseas.”
Meanwhile, Marty Richter of AT&T Corporate Communications says the company is confident an agreement will be reached, noting a strike vote is routine for negotiations and often part of the process.
“It’s in nobody’s best interest to have a strike,” Richter says in an emailed statement. “Nevertheless, preparing for contingencies is all part of what we do for customers.”
Since 2017, AT&T—which is bringing 5G cell towers to Baton Rouge—has reached 19 fair labor agreements covering roughly 88,000 employees.