Local AT&T workers strike for better wages

Frustrated over the lack of progress in contract talks, more than 17,000 AT&T union members in California and Nevada walked off their jobs on Friday.

AT&T has been diverting retail jobs to authorized retailers which offer lower wages and benefits and are not unionized or owned by the company, according to the union.

Verizon Wireless workers, who went on a 49-day strike past year, are being urged to join the picket lines in support of their fellow union workers. "Whether it's hurricanes, floods, snowstorms or even a work stoppage, we're always ready", an AT&T spokesman says.

AT&T says they've reached fair agreements with 29 bargaining units since 2015, covering over 128,000 employees.

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Local picketing is taking place near the call center and AT&T stores.

"It was really weighing in my heart, and I felt like this was the right decision", said Mall 205 AT&T employee Jacob Shoda about his choice to take part in the strike.

According to the union, it's the first time AT&T wireless workers have gone on strike. At issue are employee concerns about job security - including the outsourcing of their jobs to other countries - higher wages and better benefits.

The employees' contracts expired February 11, and the union on Wednesday notified the company of the planned strike. The strike ended when workers won an agreement with the company that it will no longer require employees to do work outside of their expertise and classification.

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Members of the local CWA Union say they want a 2% pay increase to cover increased health care costs, better job security and a change in holiday pay among other requests. "It's now in AT&T's hands to stand with workers", said Trainor. Verizon workers met with call center employees in the Philippines who answered customer calls.

The technicians respond to landline issues and are lagging behind with a short staff, said Matt Willis, an AT&T technician and union member. However, the company has not ruled out the possibility of a strike happening reiterating that it will work to ensure that customers continue to enjoy their services regardless of the outcome.

CWA warns that with wireless employees expected go on strike, several AT&T retail stores could be closed this weekend, claiming the strike could be the largest in retail history. "We want a new contract and one that is fair".

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