AT&T workers strike in Milwaukee, across much of Midwest

Some of AT&T's workers in Milwaukee are joining in a strike across five states of the Midwest, according to the president of a union of workers who do many different roles serving their customers across many platforms.

"Enough is enough," George Walls, President of CWA Local 4603 in Milwaukee, tells WTMJ's Mike Spaulding Thursday about the strike which Walls says is about getting "the company back to the bargaining table to address the union's key issues."

The strike was started at noon Thursday.

Walls says his union, with 1,200 workers under labor agreement in Milwaukee, includes "outside technicians that do installation and repair work for telephone service, internet service, that install and repair Direct TV, that do the same thing for business repair in installation work, people who work in engineering and construction, people who work in the call center here in Milwaukee."

Walls says that the main issue for workers involves keeping job security in Wisconsin and throughout the Midwest.

"A lot of call center work is being shipped overseas and out of the country," said Walls.

"We've been in contract negotiations since early March. We have bargained beyond the expiration date of our contract which was in early April. The company is not addressing our key issues, what happened last week and continued this week. Tee company is bypassing the bargaining committee and is attempting to bargain directly with our members. We consider that to be an unfair labor practice."

AT&T shared this full statement in response to the strike

A walkout is in nobody’s best interest, and it’s unfortunate that the union chose to do that.

This contract currently covers good-paying U.S. jobs averaging over $120,000 a year in pay and benefits, with some making over $200,000. After over 10 weeks of negotiations, we have presented a final offer to the union’s negotiating team at the bargaining table with a goal of bringing this process to a close and reaching a fair agreement for our employees. We’re offering a generous package including annual wage increases, continuation of job security provisions that are virtually unheard of in the U.S., and comprehensive healthcare and retirement benefits. In addition, the offer includes a commitment to hire 1,000 people in the region. All employees covered by the offer would be better off.

We’re very prepared to continue serving customers. We’re a customer service company and we plan for all contingencies, whether related to weather, natural disasters, or even work stoppages.

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