Meriden, Conn. – On Friday, February 22, AT&T announced its intention to close three call centers in Meriden, Conn. The company told workers at these locations, many of whom have been with AT&T for more than 30 years, they would have move to Tennessee or Georgia to continue their careers with AT&T. The centers scheduled to close provide support for AT&T’s network operations, including ensuring the reliability of 911 networks across 22 states.
AT&T’s own documents show that it eliminated 11,780 jobs in 2018 and is continuing to cut its workforce. The closures in Connecticut follow the company’s January announcement that it was closing its Syracuse, N.Y. call center.
“AT&T should have to explain why it’s rolling out closure after closure, and upending lives of workers who’ve given the company so much,” said David Weidlich, president of CWA Local 1298. “To be out in front of the tax bill making promises about jobs and then pushing workers to relocate far away—there is simply no excuse. AT&T is profitable, there’s plenty of work to do in the company and no good reason why these jobs need to be moved out of Connecticut.”
“I do not understand why we cannot continue to work in Connecticut” said Chief Steward John Vaitkus, who is slated for layoff along with many of his coworkers. “AT&T likes to talk about how it supports the communities where it has customers. The best way to help our communities in Connecticut is by keeping good jobs with family-supporting wages right here.”
While AT&T sold its wireline operations in Connecticut to Frontier Communications in 2014, the company continues to provide wireless services in Connecticut and networking and professional services to Connecticut businesses.
At the time of the sale, John Emra, State President for AT&T Connecticut said “AT&T is committed to the state of Connecticut.” Today’s announcement shows how hollow that commitment was.
AT&T is increasingly under fire for broken jobs promises despite $20 billion in tax savings following the corporate tax bill. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson once boasted that every $1 billion in tax savings will create “about 7,000 good jobs for the middle class.” But as AT&T is shedding jobs, it is on track to pay out three-quarters of its 2018 profits to shareholders in the form of dividends and share buybacks. CWA has called on Congress to investigate how AT&T and other major corporations are spending the enormous tax cut benefits they received from the 2018 tax bill.
A report by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) examined the telecom giant’s continued role in hollowing out the middle class by eliminating thousands of jobs, closing call centers, and shifting customer service and network maintenance to low-wage contractors, including overseas vendors.
AT&T's response to concerns about layoffs with boasts about hiring have been met with skepticism, since hiring to address turnover is not the same as job creation.
CWA Local 1298 is in the process of introducing a call center bill in Connecticut. If we had this bill the company would have to give notice of the closing and would not be eligible for any taxpayer money for at least five years.