Striking workers could close AT&T stores in New Jersey
CRANFORD — AT&T Mobility workers in New Jersey joined union employees in 36 states in a three-day strike after agreement was not reached on Friday afternoon.
Members of CWA Local 1000, including wireless network technicians and employees of over 20 corporate AT&T and Cricket stores and call centers in New Jersey, began a three-day strike at 3 p.m.
Dennis Trainor, vice president of CWA District 1, said in a statement all employees will return to work on Monday at the start of their scheduled shift.
"AT&T is facing the possibility of closed stores for the first time ever. Our demands are clear and have been for months: fair contract or strike. It’s now in AT&T’s hands to stand with workers," said Trainor.
The contract between workers and AT&T ended in January and negotiations have continued.
"This greedy company makes billions off our backs but continues to try and take from us - demanding more work for less and trying to replace us with low-wage workers at third-party dealers and overseas. It’s time to show them we’re not going to sit back and take it," Trainor write on the union's Facebook page.
Last year, AT&T made a profit of $13.3 billion. The company employs 268,540 workers.
"J.R.," chief steward for CWA Local 1000's Retail North Jersey told New Jersey 101.5, "We've put hours hours of work in to help build up this company and provide excellent customer service. It's about time we stand up to receive better and affordable healthcare, a fair scheduling policy and overall wage increase. We're more frustrated than ever with AT+T that they refuse to come to the bargaining table with serious proposals that protect our good jobs."
Seven workers at his store would go on strike, according to J.R.
AT&T spokesman Marty Richter said the company is prepared for a work stoppage and has management and vendors in place at their retail locations. However, a sign in the door of the store in Hamilton sent to New Jersey 101.5 by CWA Local 1000 spokesman Joshua Henne showed a "closed" sign in the door.
"We’re prepared, and we will continue working hard to serve our customers," Richter said.,
"Our network is among the most technologically sophisticated in the world, allowing us enormous flexibility in operations," Richter said. "We have the ability to service customers’ calls by routing them among available call centers across our network.
"A strike is in no one’s best interest, and it’s baffling as to why 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," Richter said.
Verizon Wireless workers, who went on a 49-day strike last year, are being urged to join the picket lines in support of their fellow union workers.
Among the key issues, according to the union: a wage increase more than the 2 percent being offered by AT&T that will cover increased healthcare costs; a steady commission for AT&T store employees; no increase in healthcare costs until 2021; a ratio of company owned stores to authorized stores vacation; and a different sick day policy.
"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," Richer said.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.
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