Oct 31, 2019 - AT&T's 3-Year Plan to Fill the Pockets of Billionaires

October 31, 2019

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AT&T Reports More Job Cuts, Massive Stock Buyback Plan

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As part of this week's quarterly earnings report, AT&T revealed that it has cut employment by 5,950 jobs during the third quarter of 2019, bringing the total cuts at AT&T since the corporate tax cut went into effect in January 2018 to 33,778.

The company also announced a disturbing new three-year plan, committing to spend $30 billion on buying back its own stock to boost share prices. Instead of building toward the future by bringing next generation wireless and fiber broadband networks to all Americans, AT&T plans to use its massive profits to further enrich its largest investors. AT&T's announcements come after billionaire Paul Singer's hedge fund Elliott Management recently took a small stake in the company to try to extract profits by cutting jobs and selling off critical assets while pumping up the stock price with billions in share buybacks. While AT&T did not adopt all of Elliott's plans, the company's commitment to spend up to 70% of its free cash flow on stock buybacks, appoint new directors to its board, and review its portfolio with an eye toward selling off parts of its business makes it clear that Elliott's destructive ideas have taken hold at the company.

"The plan that AT&T announced today is something only a hedge fund manager could love," said CWA President Chris Shelton. "Our union will continue to oppose Paul Singer's agenda and do what we've always done: fight back against corporate greed by standing up to protect good jobs at the bargaining table and, when necessary, on the strike line."
 


American Prospect Highlights CWA's "Culture of Readiness" to Strike

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The American Prospect last week published an in-depth piece called "Why We Wear Red on Thursdays" detailing how CWA for the past several decades has distinguished itself as a union that is willing to strike, and has done so successfully to the benefits of its members and all working people. 

In the context of the teachers strike in Chicago and the General Motors strike, the American Prospect writes of CWA's unique track record of striking and winning: "Striking this often, in such large numbers, and managing to win gains in an era of worker defeats, has given CWA something of a 'unicorn' status." 

Read the full piece here


CWAers Featured at Progressive Strategy Summit

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CWAers were featured at the Progressive Strategy Summit in Washington, D.C., last week, an event bringing together members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and activists from every corner of the progressive movement.


CWA President Chris Shelton talked about the power of strikes at the Building Worker Power panel.

At the Building Worker Power panel moderated by journalist and author Steven Greenhouse, CWA President Chris Shelton noted that many unions have rediscovered the value of strikes, but that CWA never wavered in its commitment to using the strike as a tactic to build union power. "We've been doing strikes successfully for the last 40 years, and it's because our members are mobilized," Shelton said.

Shelton highlighted the importance of passing the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, a sweeping overhaul of workers' rights that will give CWA members and all workers more power to win better wages, benefits, and working conditions. It will protect strikers, make it easier for workers to join unions, prevent the misclassification of workers as independent contractors, deal a blow to "right-to-work" laws, and much more. "This bill is just the first step in trying to get unions and people back to where they should be in the workplace," Shelton said.

Check out a clip of President Shelton's panel here.

At a panel called From the Shop Floor to the House Floor: Bringing Lessons from the Picket Lines into Policy Debates, Alex Ross, a bankruptcy specialist at Wells Fargo who has been a leader in the Committee for Better Banks, a CWA project that brings bank workers together, spoke about how bank workers are fighting to improve their working conditions by forming a union.

On the same day, the San Francisco Chronicle published an op-ed from another Communittee for Better Banks activist Patrick Creavan, who also works at Wells Fargo, with a message to the bank's new CEO that having a union would help repair the damage done to the company's image by recent scandals of its management.
 


Organizing Update

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Daily Progress

Reporters, copy editors, photographers, and other newsroom employees at the Daily Progress in Charlottesville, Va., voted to join NewsGuild-CWA on Wednesday in an NLRB election.

"We've spent the last 10 months focused on this goal, and I can't believe we achieved this historic milestone," said Katherine Knott, the K-12 education reporter at the paper and a Blue Ridge NewsGuild organizer. "Today is a great day for local journalism and the Progress."


Reporters, copy editors, photographers, and other newsroom employees at the Daily Progress in Charlottesville, Va., voted to join NewsGuild-CWA in an NLRB election.

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NBC News Digital

Approximately 75 percent of employees of NBC News Digital have signed on to a union organizing drive to join the NewsGuild of New York, TNG-CWA Local 31003. In a letter presented by a delegation of staffers Wednesday morning, workers requested voluntary recognition of their union. The bargaining unit would include staffers from nbcnews.com, today.com, StayTuned, Left Field, msnbc.com, and NBC News Now.

"NBC News is home to so many brilliant and talented journalists. We're excited to meet NBC News at the negotiating table to demand the fair and equitable workplace we deserve. The past year has seen a wave of union victories in newsrooms across the country, and we're excited to join them," said Christine Nguyen, Video Producer.


CWA Members Learn Side-by-Side with Coworkers

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CWA members participated in a "side-by-side" organizing session at a call center in Lebanon, Va. With the side-by-side help of a mentor, participants had conversations with their coworkers on how to strengthen our union, signed up new members and volunteers, and collected signatures calling on Congress to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act to expand workers' rights.


CWA Urges State Regulators to Take Action on Service Quality at Frontier Communications

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State regulators in several states are investigating service quality issues at Frontier Communications. CWAers have been calling on Frontier to invest in its network and workforce to improve service quality.

Last week, CWA urged the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), which is investigating customer complaints against Frontier, to address the company's refusal to recall dozens of trained and experienced Ohio technicians, who are currently laid off, to make much-needed repairs. Since Frontier's acquisition of Ohio landlines from Verizon in 2010, Frontier has cut its CWA-represented workforce by 70 percent, meaning fewer resources for maintenance, repairs, and customer service. 

"We believe paying to import technicians from outside the state to perform ineffectively, instead of employing local technicians who are already familiar with the network, shortchanges customers and Ohio communities and puts them at risk," said eight CWA local presidents in a letter to PUCO. "We believe Frontier needs to invest in its local workforce to ensure the long-term viability of our network and connectedness of our community."

Also last week, the Minnesota Department of Commerce and Frontier reached a settlement that requires Frontier to issue refunds to aggrieved customers and establishes a framework for dealing with future service quality issues and maintenance breakdowns. CWA Local 7270 President Mark Doffing spoke at a Minnesota Public Utilities Commission hearing last October highlighting how Frontier has left the community behind through a lack of investment in their local workforce. 


CWA Member Speaks Out for Fair Elections in New York State

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This week, CWA Local 1108 Executive Vice President Michael Gendron joined a coalition of labor and community groups fighting for fair elections in New York State to speak out for a small donor public financing system that will put elections back into the hands of New York's working people.

"This system of relying on donations from the few – the wealthy and corporate donors – has put too much power in the hands of these few," Gendron said. "We need to adopt a system that gives a plumber or carpenter the same influence as the real estate builders they work for. We need a system that gives an equal voice to a telephone lineman as the CEO of Verizon. We need a system that gives working men and women the means to run for office so that they can represent the communities they live in and fight for the issues that affect everyday people."


CWA Local 1108 Executive Vice President Michael Gendron joined a coalition of labor and community groups fighting for fair elections in New York State.