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AT&T Businesses The Almighty Buck United States Technology

17,000 AT&T Workers Go On Strike In California and Nevada (fortune.com) 172

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Fortune: Approximately 17,000 workers in AT&T's traditional wired telephone business in California and Nevada walked out on strike on Wednesday, marking the most serious labor action against the carrier in years. The walkout -- formally known as a grievance strike -- occurred after AT&T changed the work assignments of some of the technicians and call center employees in the group, the Communications Workers of America union said. The union would not say how long the strike might last. A contract covering the group expired last year and there has been little progress in negotiations over sticking points like the outsourcing of call center jobs overseas, stagnant pay, and rising health care costs. The union said it planned to file an unfair labor charge with the National Labor Relations Board over the work assignment changes. "A walkout is not in anybody's best interest and it's unfortunate that the union chose to do that," an AT&T spokesman told Fortune. "We're engaged in discussion with the union to get these employees back to work as soon as possible."
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17,000 AT&T Workers Go On Strike In California and Nevada

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  • Luckily the number of landline customers is zero.
    • by bobdehnhardt ( 18286 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2017 @05:34PM (#54091479)

      Worst case scenario for the unions: what if nobody really notices?

      • In this scenario, the telecom workers could switch to coal mining which has a big future under the current administration, I hear, according to campaign promises.
        • Yep. Boss Trump is rallying the fans in Kentucky [nytimes.com], promising to bring back coal jobs. Or, at least, bring back coal by letting up on silly environmental rules [forbes.com] like the Stream Protection Rule [wikipedia.org].

          Trouble is, giving coal companies a break doesn't necessarily mean good things for coal miners. Like everyone else, coal companies are heavily investing in automation and mining techniques that require fewer pesky workers. At the same time, strip-mining and poisoning the water and the land makes it suck worse to live in coal country, either as a miner or even as a crazed live-off-the-land survivor type.

          Further, Trump is a big friend of fracking, which lowers the price of natural gas, which, like, lowers the demand for coal. Uhhh, right.

          My guess is there's gonna be a lot of disappointed folks in coal country in a coupla years when the jobs don't come and Trumpcare takes over. Maybe by then AT&T will be hiring scabs to replace all the folks on strike. Can you run some fiber before that black lung gits ya, or will the heavy metals in the frogs and the river trout git ya first?

          • by dj245 ( 732906 )

            Yep. Boss Trump is rallying the fans in Kentucky [nytimes.com], promising to bring back coal jobs. Or, at least, bring back coal by letting up on silly environmental rules [forbes.com] like the Stream Protection Rule [wikipedia.org].

            Trouble is, giving coal companies a break doesn't necessarily mean good things for coal miners. Like everyone else, coal companies are heavily investing in automation and mining techniques that require fewer pesky workers. At the same time, strip-mining and poisoning the water and the land makes it suck worse to live in coal country, either as a miner or even as a crazed live-off-the-land survivor type.

            Further, Trump is a big friend of fracking, which lowers the price of natural gas, which, like, lowers the demand for coal. Uhhh, right.

            My guess is there's gonna be a lot of disappointed folks in coal country in a coupla years when the jobs don't come and Trumpcare takes over. Maybe by then AT&T will be hiring scabs to replace all the folks on strike. Can you run some fiber before that black lung gits ya, or will the heavy metals in the frogs and the river trout git ya first?

            In fact, the Stream Protection Rule originated [npr.org] with coal miners. Coal miners, after all, presumably have to live somewhere nearby to the coal mine.

        • by gtall ( 79522 )

          How come Trump isn't riding to the rescue of these workers and setting the company on the righteous path of ensuring their employment at AT&T? Surely this should qualify for his alleged deal making skills. He's been telling us about them for years. He's also been telling us how smart he is, and this is a no-brainer kind of deal he could make.

      • by Altus ( 1034 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2017 @05:59PM (#54091633) Homepage

        Then clearly the companies shouldn't be employing any of them... which is fine, but probably not the case since companies are pretty slick when it comes to figuring out if they still need employees and cutting down labor costs if the answer is "no" so really this is just about your hatred of unions because you know damn well that if these people weren't needed the company would have laid them off a long time ago

    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      More like 1%. I still know a few people with landlines for copper phone and DSL services.

    • I dumped AT&T two years ago. They wanted $39 for basic telephone service (no long distance).
      I bought a dedicated Tracfone and linked it to a bluetooth gateway. I plugged the gateway in to my house wiring and transferred my landline number to the Tracfone. My monthly cost is running about ten dollars now.

      Screw ATT and screw their union.

      They are a dying business model.

    • by whitroth ( 9367 )

      Are you really that ignorant, or just being obnoxious?

      I'll leave as an exercise for the student to google up how much revenue is in landlines. And btw, sound quality on almost any landline makes your stupidphone sound like two paper cups and a string between them.

  • by sexconker ( 1179573 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2017 @05:25PM (#54091415)

    A walkout is not in anybody's best interest and it's unfortunate that the union chose to do that

    I'm generally anti-union because they almost always devolve into pieces of shit, but fuck AT&T and fuck the obvious bullshit line about a strike not being in anyone's best interest. It's in the best interest of the union (and hopefully of the employees).

    • by Nutria ( 679911 )

      All this is gonna do is accelerate AT&T's desire to outsource call center personnel.

    • by es330td ( 964170 )

      That train is going to be run. You have no choice about that. But you can choose whether it’s going to be run by one of your men or not. If you choose not to let them, the train will still run, if I have to drive the engine myself If you think that I need your men more than they need me, choose accordingly. If you know that I can run an engine, but they can’t build a railroad, choose according to that.

      It's in the best interest of the union

      Not if striking lets the union find out that the employees they represent are no longer needed and the union's membership suddenly no longer pays union dues.

      • by Altus ( 1034 )

        Good, thats exactly what should happen... but probably wont because, you know, if they weren't needed the jobs would have been cut long before this.

    • by sit1963nz ( 934837 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2017 @06:42PM (#54091891)
      Many years ago I belonged to a Union.
      In its rules was the cause that we could NOT go on strike. The employer could not do a lock out.

      What took it's place was that any negotiations over pay and conditions that could not be resolved in 12 weeks would be taken to an independent Arbiter. That arbiter was a member of the judiciary, their job was not influenced by elections, employer payments, etc etc etc

      Both sides put their final offer to the arbiter and defended it, justifying why their position was the most fair and reasonable. There arbiter required proof of any claims, and that could include looking at the employers books.

      The arbiter could then take a further 2 weeks and choose EITHER the union OR the employer offer. No chasing bits from one and bits from another, they had toe make a choice which offer was the most reasonable. And that decision was binding on both parties

      This forced both sides to start from a position of reason right from the start and most negotiations took less then 3 weeks to negotiate and ratify.

      Sadly that union was consumed by a larger union and all that went away.
      • by Uberbah ( 647458 )

        That arbiter was a member of the judiciary, their job was not influenced by elections, employer payments, etc etc etc

        Still corporatists, though. Either because they had to run for election at some point (and had to pander for campaign donations), or because they were appointed by a corporatist politician, who had to pander for campaign donations to get elected.

        • by sit1963nz ( 934837 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2017 @11:21PM (#54093285)
          Not in New Zealand.

          Our Judges are not elected, nor government appointed. They either put their name forward themselves or the firms they work for nominates them. However the MUST have a law degree, must have at least 7 years experience as a practicing lawyer, and they get chosen based on their work experience, character , social awareness, fairness etc etc etc by the Attorney-General's Judicial Appointments Unit.

          Our civil service is also non partisan, senior appointments are not political appointments and dont change when there is a change in government.

          Equally our news media is less partisan then US media, and it has been rated as far more free (as in free speech) than US media too.

          New Zealand is also one of the least corrupt countries in the world, the lack of political interference in the courts, police, civil service may also account for this.
    • "Changing work assignments of technicians and call center people".

      OH NO! We can't have that.

      In the real world, people get asked to do different things on a daily basis.

      In a union environment, we get a lot of "It's not my job to do that".

    • by Uberbah ( 647458 )

      I'm generally anti-union because they almost always devolve into pieces of shit

      Right. In the same way that if you start your own business, it will mean you will sexually harass your secretary while defrauding your investors, killing your employees with unsafe working conditions, selling fake products to customers and dumping toxic waste in the river. Because reasons.

  • Support the Union (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sdinfoserv ( 1793266 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2017 @05:43PM (#54091541) Homepage
    I'm not a member of a union, and used to be anti-union, but the destruction of unions paves the way to total employee exploitation. Notice that pay has been flat for years, but for Corporate AT&T in 2016:
    *Consolidated revenues of $40.5 billion, up more than 22%
    *Operating income up 13.6%
    *Net income up 10.6%
    *Cash from operations of $10.3 billion, up 12.5%
    *Free cash flow of $4.8 billion, up 8.4%
    *Diluted EPS of $0.55 as reported and $0.72 diluted adjusted EPS compared to $0.59 and $0.70 in the year-ago quarter.
    All the while the workers get no increases. Every single worker in the US (outside of a few high pay tech positions) is suffering due to corporate greed. A few people at the top have received all the increases for all the productivity gains since the 1980s. If you care about what this country will look like for your kids, you really should care about this. The reality is, you are likely not someone at the top.
    • What are ya? Some kinda Commie?

    • Combine a strong OSHA with a UBI and you nearly eliminate any exploitive power of corporations.
    • by sit1963nz ( 934837 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2017 @06:56PM (#54091977)
      See, when I complained how Apple was able to sort the New Zealand tax system the people from the USA were unsympathetic.

      "Change the laws" they said
      "It will only increase the price of Apple products" others said
      "The government has no rights to Apples money" yet more people said

      Well here we are now in the USA, with US workers complaining.
      The same basic sentiments apply by the looks of it.

      The only people entitled to make more money is "not you", and Trump is not going to change that.
      • by e r ( 2847683 )

        The only people entitled to make more money is "not you"

        But your sentiment betrays what's really going on: pure jealousy and greed. On your part.
        Nobody's taking money out of your pocket-- oh wait, yeah the government is totally doing that.
        Well, aside from taxes nobody is robbing you or holding you back. If you want to be mediocre and just live your life then don't complain when you get mediocre pay.
        Otherwise, provide a good or service to lots of people and make lots of money. Nobody's stopping you.

    • by e r ( 2847683 )
      Voluntary unions == Great.
      Mandatory unions == Extremely bad... but not right away. It always takes a couple years for the real crap to show up. When it does it's bad.
  • California is leading the resistance! Woo-hoo!
    • Some western country's proverb: "The head that sticks out the most above the grass gets chopped off."
      • It is a Japanese proverb [wikiquote.org]

        The nail that sticks out gets hammered down.
        • Actually: no. "The nail that sticks out gets hammered down" is the English equivalent of the Japanese "The stake that sticks out gets hammered down".
          Read your own link, I think you really need that seminar. :)

          Further it's not totally clear to me why you posted this reply, because it's in the signature of the previous poster that it's a Japanese proverb, so for you there's nothing to add to the discussion with this, unless you misunderstood my reply by thinking I was denying it's a Japanese proverb, which
  • There are 17,000 new job openings in California and Nevada.

  • by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2017 @08:31PM (#54092485)

    I hope the union members get what they want. People are all too willing to give up all of their bargaining power and be at the mercy of employers. I happen to be one of those strange people who would like to see a little more loyalty on the part of both employers and employees. It's not good for either side to have a revolving door - employers lose valuable trained people, employees become modern-day Okies migrating from employer to employer with no consistency in their lives. If you have that loyalty, and a good work environment, and good salary/benefits, then you wouldn't need a union. Unfortunately, we're back on the other side of the pendulum now, and I think it might be time for collective bargaining to make a comeback.

    Think about it rationally -- even if you're the l33test, baddest full-stack DevOps Ninja out there, you're still at the mercy of an employer who is actively trying to pay you as little as possible. If you work in Silicon Valley, you're in a salary bubble right now because Apps! Wait until the bubble pops and employers have their pick of 500 DevOps Ninjas, some of whom are willing to work for practically nothing. Or, they have their pick of thousands of H-1B candidates who work for even less, or could just have all the Ninja-ing done in India and pay less than that! And of course, all that savings goes directly into their pockets, increasing the income disparity and making life miserable for everyone except the executives. I don't think there's anything wrong with a union standing up and fighting against the offshoring of their jobs...or look how many IT jobs might have been saved had the H-1B visa been lobbied against. This is what unions do.

    Face it, everybody needs a job, and everybody needs a job whose salary keeps up with inflation and lets them earn more as they age. Society is set up around this, and it's not going to change easily. No one is going to buy houses anymore once they see they can't count on their employers to keep them employed. People won't even take out car loans if they don't feel they have income to pay them back. Unless we have a nuclear war and have to rebuild the system with 1% of the population, you're not going to get people to give up using money to transfer value amongst themselves. I think unions and professional organizations are a good limiting factor on the unchecked greed of business owners. No business owner is going to be nice and share their profits equitably among their workers unless something forces them to. A union is an employee's best hope of getting as many table scraps from the executive dining room table as possible -- no one employee, not even a DevOps Ninja, will get the management class to give in to anything they want.

    • If you want a salary that consistently (over decades that is) keeps up with inflation, then you have but one choice: Get rid of the central banks.
  • This strike, had it been called while President Barack "Lawnchair" Obama was in office, would have likely ended in no progress for either side, with the workers going back to the same shitty situation they walked out from (ultimately a loss for the workers as they would see no raise while their cost of living increases). That would have been bad timing.

    Now we have a GOP that is still drunk on power calling the shots in DC. These workers might as well go take a long walk off a short pier at this point.
  • ... Is when they get fired municipalities can absorb them and thousands more for the "Dig Once" pending legislation.

%DCL-MEM-BAD, bad memory VMS-F-PDGERS, pudding between the ears

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