While AT&T refuses to release details about plans for its $20 billion in tax savings, a report by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) examines 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. While 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,” the company announced more than 1,500 layoffs just days after the tax bill became law.
Read the full report here: AT&T 2018 Jobs Report
Case studies in the report reveal the devastating impact of recent call center closures across the Midwest, including in Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and Illinois. In addition to concerns about job security, AT&T workers report that the company’s practice of outsourcing customer service work to low-wage overseas contractors is hurting the quality of service and damaging AT&T’s brand.
“AT&T got rewarded with tax breaks, but AT&T employees are getting hurt,” said Tomeka Cooley-Pettus, a 13-year employee at a call center in Dayton, OH, where AT&T recently announced layoffs. “Communities like Dayton are struggling because of company layoffs. Community stores are shutting down, and a lot of workers are forced to leave and find somewhere else they can make a living. Thanks to companies like AT&T, it’s a race to the bottom instead of a race to the top.”
Key findings from the report include:
- In the past seven years, AT&T has eliminated more than 16,000 call center jobs, closed 44 call centers, and laid off thousands of workers.
- In the past three years, AT&T has laid off 2,300 workers in Midwest states including Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Illinois.
- In Michigan and Ohio, AT&T has closed four call centers in the past two years alone.
“I put in 20 years at AT&T, and then got laid off along with 116 of my coworkers 10 days before Christmas,” said Sheila Lewis, who worked at AT&T’s Detroit call center until it closed this year. “The way the company did it isn’t fair or respectful. It’s also bad business, because the overseas contractors doing our work cost the company money because of their poor service and harm to the AT&T brand.”
The report comes as 14,000 AT&T workers, including call center and retail store workers in five Midwest states, voted to authorize a strike if AT&T refuses to offer real solutions to keep good family-supporting jobs in their communities.
“AT&T is breaking its promise to workers, customers, and communities across the country,” said CWA District 4 Vice President Linda L. Hinton. “The company pledged to invest in U.S. workers if the tax bill passed, but they’ve done just the opposite. Companies like AT&T must renew their commitment to working people and the towns that depend on these jobs.”