BOARDMAN, Ohio (WYTV) – AT&T workers across the country walked off the job Friday afternoon to start what could be a three-day strike. Union members don’t have a contract, are concerned about the future, and are making their feelings known in a loud way.
Shortly after 3 p.m., 100 members of Communications Workers of America Local 4320 gathered outside Boardman’s AT&T call center on South Avenue to start their weekend-long strike. They said they’re striking over wages, benefits, and most importantly, job security — they want the outsourcing of jobs to stop.
“Do not outsource jobs overseas, keep the call center jobs here with us, and then also not to close the retail stores,” Renee Rouser said.
The Boardman call center is just one of six area locations affected by this strike. There are also two retail stores in Niles, one in Austintown, and two in Boardman. In total, there are about 500 on strike between all of the locations — and that’s just in the Youngstown area. From New York to California, this strike is happening nationwide.
A worker picketing on the line said just one person walked into the store on Route 224 in Boardman between 3 and 6 p.m. Friday.
“They just keep going past. Yeah, it’s definitely deterring the customers from going in,” Brandon Kimec said.
People driving by honked in support. Even 3-month-old Noah Pruden came to support his dad with his mother, Susan.
“I wanted to support my husband and the other Communications Workers of America,” she said. “It’s very important that they get the fair wages that they truly deserve. They work very hard.”
AT&T spokesperson Holly Hollingsworth released the following statement regarding the employees’ strike:
A strike is in no one’s best interest, and it’s baffling that union leadership would call one when we’re offering terms in which our employees in these contracts — some of whom average from $115,000 to $148,000 in total compensation — will be better off financially.
We’re prepared, and we will continue working hard to serve our customers.
What’s most important is we’re all family, whether you’re a union member or not. Like any family we have our disagreements but we’ll sort them out. We’ve reached 29 fair agreements since 2015 covering over 128,000 of our employees, and we’re confident we can do the same here.
We’re offering generous terms in these negotiations including annual wage and pension increases, as well as comprehensive healthcare benefits, similar to what other employees across the country have ratified in other contracts. We’re confident employees will be better off financially in their new contract.
The two contracts together involve only about 13 percent of our employees.
The workers on strike said the company’s comment about wages doesn’t reveal the whole picture.
“There are workers that probably make that much — with overtime and benefits included — but that’s not our call center workers, our retail workers, or even the vast majority of our technicians,” Ron Gay said.
It’s the first time AT&T wireless workers have gone on strike.
Any consumer inconveniences due to the strike should be minimal. It ends Monday morning.