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AT&T Workers Strike Southeast; more than 20,000 goes out





More than 20,000 unions for AT&T in the Southeast are on strike from midnight Friday, officials said.

Members of Communications Workers in America ̵

1; including 4,000 in Georgia – charged the huge telecommunications company with unfair labor practices during negotiations aimed at securing a new contract.

The previous agreement expired on August 3.

Since then, the talks have gone nowhere because the company has made sure an agreement can't happen, said Richard Honeycutt, the union's vice president for the Southeast in a statement issued late Friday. "Our talks have stopped because it has become clear that AT&T has not sent dealers who have the power to make decisions, so we can move on to a new contract."

The company, based in Dallas, has an annual revenue of about $ 170 billion a year. It includes the remnants of Atlanta-based BellSouth, which for more than two decades was the largest of the seven regional telephone companies.

Company officials said they were blindsided and mystified by the strike call.

"We are confused as to why union management will call one when we offer terms that will help our employees – some of whom, on average, from $ 121,000 to $ 134,000 in total compensation – be even better," said the AT&T spokesman Jim Kimberly.


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Business officials were determined to be prepared for a walk-out. In the days before the contract expired, AT&T officials said they would be prepared for a strike and that business operations would go smoothly with managers, executives and contractors picking up the slack.

"We are prepared for a strike and in the event of a work stoppage, we will continue to work hard to serve our customers," Kimberly said Friday night

Union leaders wondered at the show, arguing that the company would have to prioritize work that delays new installations and non-emergency maintenance.

The Southeast Region of the Federation includes technicians, customer service representatives and others who "install, maintain, and support" the company's landline and Internet line services. The region includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Union officials have said that the most important issues are job security and health services.

Workers could have stayed at work without a contract, although negotiators failed to reach an agreement. More than 30,000 Verizon workers last summer ratified a contract after working for one year without one.

This article was written by Michael E. Kanell, The Atlanta-Journal Constitution.