Elliott Management’s sale of its AT&T shares after one year shows that Elliott’s leadership was never interested in the long term success of AT&T, its workers, or its customers. It once again raises the question of why AT&T and other companies continue to follow the outdated playbook laid out by hedge funds that has caused the destruction of millions of middle class jobs, created enormous economic inequality, and rocked the foundations of our democracy.
When the Business Roundtable updated its Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation last year, member companies, including AT&T, committed to investing in their workers and generating long-term value for shareholders. With Elliott’s exit, AT&T’s leadership has an opportunity to pursue a new path in line with those objectives, one that increases prosperity and connectedness for all Americans.
Over the years, workers across the country sought employment with AT&T, not to make a quick buck, but to commit to a meaningful career. Many CWA members have spent decades at the company, developing expertise, mentoring co-workers, and taking pride in the service they provide to their communities. Those communities are still reeling from the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
We are calling on AT&T’s board and management to join with us to build back better for a strong recovery. The company should provide its workers with the support necessary to protect their health and prevent the spread of the virus. It should stop cutting jobs so long as work is contracted out or delegated to authorized dealers. It should extend its suspension of stock buybacks in order to invest in building desperately needed next generation networks across its entire footprint, including rural areas. It should work with us to include frontline workers in retraining programs for jobs of the future. And it should once again be an anchor for the middle class by allowing all of its workers to choose union representation without management opposition or interference.
Hedge fund managers with deep pockets and big ideas will come and go, but CWA members are the foundation upon which AT&T has built its success, and we are here for the long haul. If Elliott chooses to exercise the three million call options it retains to buy more AT&T stock, CWA members will be ready to mobilize against its agenda once again.