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Despite 'Unprecedented' Windfall From Corporate Tax Cut, AT&T's Workers Forced to Wage Fierce Fight to Keep Their Jobs

A union representing thousands of AT&T workers is preparing to strike and pointing out broken promises related to the #GOPTaxScam

strike

Striking AT&T workers picket May 19, 2017, outside an AT&T store on Michigan Avenue. The Communications Workers of America walkout is planned to last three days. (Photo: Phil Velasquez/Chicago Tribune)

As a union representing thousands of AT&T workers across several states is preparing to strike if current negotiations for an expired contract falter, the labor group is drawing a direct connection between the massive tax windfall the corporation received last year and the broken promises it now represents.

While signing the tax bill—which slashed the corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 percent—President Donald Trump infamously remarked, "Corporations are literally going wild over this." Companies such as AT&T,  which "lobbied aggressively in favor of" the measure, claimed they would use the tax breaks to raise employees' wages and create jobs in the United States.

However, the Communications Workers of America (CWA)—which is reportedly engaged in negotiations for 14,000 workers in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin, as well as its nationwide Legacy T contract—points out that although AT&T issued one-time $1,000 bonuses to some 200,000 employees in the wake of its "unprecedented" windfall from the new tax rules, it has also continued to cut and outsource jobs.

Americans for Tax Fairness, which has warned for months about the devastating consequences of the Republicans' tax law, said Wednesday that this battle between the union and the company proves corporations like AT&T "never planned on using their #TrumpTaxScam tax cuts to create jobs or boost workers' pay like they promised."

In a document published Wednesday, entitled AT&T 2018 Jobs Report: Telecom Giant Hollows Out Middle Class Workforce and Outsources to Global Contractors, Even as it Reaps Tax Windfall (pdf), CWA outlines how "despite its strong financial position and promises to invest in its American workforce, AT&T has shifted much of its employment away from good, family-supporting jobs and towards a low-wage model that undermines the quality of its customer service and its standing as a good corporate citizen."

In December of 2017—the same month that Trump signed the corporate-friendly tax overhaul into law—AT&T announced the closure of call centers located in Dallas, Detroit, and Kansas City, and laid off hundreds of workers in the Southwest region, including 152 technicians.

"AT&T continues to eliminate thousands of good, family-supporting jobs from coast to coast, and has cut more than16,000 call center jobs in the past seven years alone."
—CWA report

Those layoffs are part of a broader trend, according to the report, which says, "In the Midwest, AT&T has eliminated 1,330 technician jobs in the past three years, even as it contracts out all of its network construction, much of its engineering work, and the vast majority of its satellite installation work."

Pointing to AT&T chief executive Randall Stephenson's promise to create thousands of "good jobs for the middle class" if the tax overhaul passed, the report says that "AT&T continues to eliminate thousands of good, family-supporting jobs from coast to coast, and has cut more than16,000 call center jobs in the past seven years alone."

Workers at the 44 U.S. call centers the company has closed since 2011 "often had decades of service with AT&T," the report notes, "and they and their communities feel betrayed when the company callously cuts their jobs and devastates their communities, especially while benefiting from billions of dollars in tax cuts."

"The outsourcing has created a sense of insecurity for folks," Linda Hinton, CWA's AT&T Midwest vice president, told USA Today. "Randall Stephenson has said on several occasions he was committed to raising wages and creating good-paying jobs... We are trying to hold his feet to the fire on this."

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