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After Promising More Jobs From Trump Tax Cuts, Report Shows AT&T Has 'Done Just the Opposite' by Slashing Over 10,000 Jobs in 2018

"AT&T is breaking its promise to workers, customers, and communities across the country."

"Instead of investing in its workforce and transitioning to jobs of the future, AT&T is laying off American workers and relying increasingly on a global web of low-wage contractors to provide customer service and network maintenance," the Communications Workers of America (CWA) notes in a new report. (Photo: Wm. Glasheen/USA Today Network-Wisconsin)

Adding to the list of corporate giants that have slashed jobs since pocketing massive windfalls from the GOP tax cuts, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) released a report on Monday detailing how the telecom behemoth AT&T cut over 10,000 jobs and announced the closure of three call centers in 2018 despite receiving a $20 billion boost from the deeply unpopular tax law.

"AT&T continues to eliminate thousands of good, family-supporting jobs from coast to coast, and has cut more than 16,000 call center jobs in the past seven years alone."
—Communications Workers of America

"AT&T is breaking its promise to workers, customers, and communities across the country," Linda Hinton, vice president of CWA District 4, said in a statement. "The company pledged to invest in U.S. workers if the tax bill passed, but they've done just the opposite."

According to the union's report (pdf), AT&T slashed at least "10,700 union jobs across its business" in 2018—cuts that directly undermine CEO Randall Stephenson's lofty promise to invest the billions in gains from the GOP tax cuts in creating jobs and bolstering his company's workforce.

"AT&T continues to eliminate thousands of good, family-supporting jobs from coast to coast, and has cut more than 16,000 call center jobs in the past seven years alone," the report notes. "Instead of investing in its workforce and transitioning to jobs of the future, AT&T is laying off American workers and relying increasingly on a global web of low-wage contractors to provide customer service and network maintenance."

Betsy Lafontaine, a CWA member and long-time employee at AT&T's Appleton, Wisconsin call center—which is slashing jobs in March—said in a statement that the company has "shifted our customer calls to offshore vendor centers where workers are paid less than $5 an hour, and at the same time have made our sales metrics tougher and more exacting to meet."

"Now we have a tough choice—uproot our lives and transfer to another center that AT&T may shut down in a few years, or try to find one of the few jobs here with good benefits and family-supporting wages," Lafontaine added.

On top of documenting the company's deep job cuts, the CWA report also hits AT&T for handing out meager bonuses relative to the enormous sums it has raked in from the Republican Party's $1.5 trillion in tax cuts.

"Thanks to the tax cuts, the company... expects a $3 billion annual increase in cash profits starting in 2018," the report notes. "Despite these supercharged profits, the company announced plans to spend just $1 billion more on capital projects and pay a bonus of merely $1,000 to its employees, which amounts to a one-time $200 million expenditure, or 7% of AT&T's expected annual benefit from the tax cuts. Meanwhile, the company is on track to pay out three-quarters of its 2018 profits to shareholders in the form of dividends and share buybacks."

CWA has demanded (pdf) that AT&T release the details of how it is using its tax windfall, but the company has thus far refused. Last month, CWA sent a letter to House Democrats calling for an investigation into how AT&T and other corporate giants have spent their tax cuts.

"Understanding why AT&T and companies like it have failed to follow through on their promises will undoubtedly inform your efforts to rewrite the tax law, so that instead of a giveaway to the rich, it truly does ensure the retention and creation of good jobs in the United States," the union wrote to House Ways and Means chair Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.).

AT&T is hardly alone in hoarding massive gains from the Republican tax law while eliminating or outsourcing good-paying jobs.

As Common Dreams reported, General Motors announced plans in November to close plants in several states and slash nearly 15,000 jobs just months after reaping $514 million from the Republican tax cuts.

According to research by the nonprofit Just Capital, the 1,000 largest public companies have cut nearly 140,000 jobs since the passage of the GOP tax plan in December of 2017.

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