The Communications Workers of America continue to rally and wear their red t-shirts and buttons to work as negotiations progress slowly between the union and AT&T.
Members of CWA Locals 7200 and 7250 conducted informational picketing Friday at the AT&T call center in Bloomington, where more than 100 workers provide customer service to businesses and consumers and another 138 are engaged in collections.
The workers called on AT&T to address their concerns about wages and benefits, job security, and the outsourcing of call centers and other work.
“Bargaining is slowly happening,” said Shari Wojtowicz, president of Local 7250. “They (AT&T) are still not serious about a lot of our biggest issues.”
“They’ve been dragging their feet,” said Dave Bennett, a Local 7250 steward and national safety committee member. “We’ve had 30 proposals that we put out and they haven’t answered any of them.”
Some 21,000 workers in 21 states are working under the terms of an expired contract; the contract can be terminated with a 72-hour notice. Members voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike at AT&T Mobility – by a 93 percent vote – if a fair contract isn’t reached.
In addition to Local 7200’s AT&T call center employees in Minnesota, the contract also covers technicians and workers at 27 retail stores in Minnesota, who are members of Local 7250, for a total of about 600 workers.
According to a news release from CWA, “since 2011, AT&T has chosen to cut more than 8,000 call center jobs and offshore thousands of jobs to Mexico, the Philippines, India, the Dominican Republic and other countries. Meanwhile, the company has outsourced the operation of more than 60 percent of its wireless retail stores to low-wage, low-quality 3rd party dealers.”
Workers are asking the public to sign their petition opposing the outsourcing of call centers. It can be found on the CWA website.
They are standing ready to walk off the job if it becomes necessary, said Susie Johnson, area vice president for Local 7200.
“That is the last option,” she said. “Nobody wants to go on strike.”