Nationwide - The Communications Workers of America (CWA) filed unfair labor practice (ULP) charges against AT&T and Irving, TX-based Nexstar for refusing to provide information about the company’s plan to use its tax windfall to invest in its workforce.
Before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed, AT&T promised that corporations would use their massive windfall from the bill to raise wages and create “7,000 good jobs for the middle class.” Instead, just days after the tax bill became law, the company announced more than 1,500 layoffs, and has continued to stonewall workers fighting to protect U.S. jobs at the bargaining table – despite receiving a $20 billion windfall as a result of the tax bill.
The charges are the latest escalation of efforts to hold corporations accountable to their tax bill promises. In recent months, CWA and other unions have filed formal information requests to find out if increased corporate profits as a result of the tax bill are really going to raise wages and create jobs.
The ULP charges come amid a looming strike threat at AT&T. Last week, CWA’s Executive Board voted to approve a strike by 14,000 workers covered by AT&T’s Midwest and Legacy T contracts. The Executive Board’s decision comes after AT&T Midwest and Legacy T workers voted on April 10 to authorize a strike, and as the company is stonewalling workers at the bargaining table over the need for good, family-supporting jobs. The Executive Board’s decision gives CWA President Chris Shelton the go ahead to set a strike date if negotiators cannot reach an agreement.
“AT&T promised to invest in its U.S. workforce if the GOP tax bill passed,” said Linda L. Hinton, Vice President of CWA District 4, which covers the Midwest Region. “We’re going to hold them to that promise – even if it means going on strike.”
“Like so many companies, AT&T promised that it would use savings from the tax bill to create good, family-supporting U.S. jobs,” said Lisa Bolton, Vice President of CWA Telecommunications and Technologies. “We’re using our power at the bargaining table to make sure they keep that promise. AT&T shouldn’t be laying off workers and sending the work to low-wage contractors when they are pulling in billions in profits from the tax bill.”
Before the Republican tax bill passed, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson promised that every $1 billion in tax savings would create “7,000 good jobs for the middle class.” Instead, ongoing layoffs have compounded workers’ concerns about the company’s practice of shifting work to low-wage overseas contractors, which many believe is hurting the quality of service and damaging AT&T’s brand. The company’s touted investment of just $1 billion on capital projects and one-time $1,000 bonuses to employees is equivalent to just 7% of its expected annual profit from the cuts. Overall jobs numbers at AT&T are down 29,000 from two years ago.
While AT&T refuses to release details about plans for its $20 billion in tax savings, a recent report from CWA found that AT&T has closed 44 call centers and eliminated 16,000 call center jobs in the last seven years. The report reveals the devastating impact of recent call center closures across the Midwest, an area that has been particularly hard hit by closures and layoffs. Meanwhile, the company’s latest quarterly earnings report reveals $4.7 billion in profits and indicates that AT&T is spending more than ever on dividends and buybacks.
AT&T is also facing heightened scrutiny for paying $600,000 to Trump attorney Michael Cohen. AT&T says that Cohen did no legal or lobbying work for the firm, but was instead richly compensated for “insights” into the Trump administration.
The AT&T Midwest contract covers workers in Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin, while the Legacy T contract covers workers nationwide. Both contracts expired on April 14, 2018.