Nationwide – Amid growing concern about companies’ plans for profits in the wake of the Republican tax bill, Representatives Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and twenty-three colleagues sent a letter this week to AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson calling on the company to disclose plans for their profits from the tax bill - in particular on job growth. In addition, Senator Sherrod Brown led a group of Senators urging the company to settle on a fair contract with workers that protects and create jobs as was promised by AT&T during debate over the tax bill.
Despite promises that tax windfalls would be used to create jobs, AT&T has announced layoffs and continues to outsource and offshore American jobs. Last month, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) filed unfair labor practice (ULP) charges for refusing to provide information about the company’s plan to use its savings from the tax bill to invest in its workforce. The Executive Board of CWA has approved a strike by 14,000 workers covered by AT&T’s Midwest and Legacy T contracts, meanwhile the company continues to stonewall workers at the bargaining table over the need for good family-supporting jobs.
In his letter, Brown calls on AT&T to reach an agreement that improves workers’ job security and includes a commitment to creating new jobs in the U.S.
“Since January 2016, AT&T alone has laid off thousands of call center workers and closed dozens of U.S. call centers,” Brown’s letter states. “We urge you to continue negotiating in good faith until an agreement is reached, and we urge you to include commitments in the contract that improve job security for your highly competitive workforce and reverse the trend of call center offshoring in our states.”
In their letter, Pocan and Dingell called on AT&T to explain the impact of the tax bill on its business plan and its workers.
“...in your November 8th press release, you stated that you would commit to investing an additional $1 billion in the US should the bill in question be signed into law. You further stated that your analysis suggested that such investment would result in the creation of 7,000 additional jobs.
However, recent reports regarding contract negotiations suggest otherwise. As we consider future taxing and spending priorities for the United States, in our capacity as Members of Congress, we would ask that you update us on the status of your plans to invest in the United States, as well as other seen and unforeseen impacts the tax law has had on your business plans.”
“The time is now for AT&T to follow through on its tax bill promises to create good, family-supporting U.S. jobs and invest in workers,” said CWA District 4 Vice President Linda L. Hinton. “While AT&T stonewalls workers at the bargaining table over offshoring and outsourcing, the company is pulling in billions in profits from the tax bills. AT&T workers will not give up on their fight against layoffs, cuts, and closures.”
Before the Republican tax bill passed, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson promised that every $1 billion in tax savings would create “7,000 good jobs for the middle class.” Instead, ongoing layoffs have compounded workers’ concerns about the company’s practice of shifting work to low-wage overseas contractors, which many believe is hurting the quality of service and damaging AT&T’s brand. The company’s touted investment of just $1 billion on capital projects and one-time $1,000 bonuses to employees is equivalent to just 7% of its expected annual profit from the cuts. Overall jobs numbers at AT&T are down 29,000 from two years ago.
A recent report from CWA found that AT&T has closed 44 call centers and eliminated 16,000 call center jobs in the last seven years. The report reveals the devastating impact of recent call center closures across the Midwest, an area that has been particularly hard hit by closures and layoffs. Meanwhile, the company’s latest quarterly earnings report reveals $4.7 billion in profits and indicates that AT&T is spending more than ever on dividends and buybacks.
The letters and full list of signatories can be found here: