20,000 AT&T union workers protest across Southeast, including Lake Charles

Updated: Aug. 24, 2019 at 5:17 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Across the Southeast on Saturday, more than 20,000 union workers for AT&T are on strike.

That includes workers in Lake Charles. They were protesting at the corner of La. 14 and Opelousas Street.

The strike region includes Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Joshuah Regan, an AT&T service technician in Lake Charles, said they’re fighting for a say in new contract negotiations, after their previous one expired on Aug. 3.

“We are asking the company to send somebody to the table that can made decisions for us to get our fair contract," Regan said.

The strike includes technicians, customer service representatives and others who install, maintain and support the company’s landline and internet line services.

When asked what drove the workers to strike, Regan said there have been three main events that pushed them to this point.

“We have three different charges against AT&T," Regan said. "One is not bringing anyone to the table to make a fair contract, to make a decision, the other one is not supporting our employees that are at the table that we agreed on previously, and we had some employees in Florida suspended for conservative action.”

However, AT&T sent a statement to KPLC denying that.

“A strike is in no one’s best interest. We remain ready to sit down with union leaders to listen to their concerns and work with them on negotiating a new, improved contract for our employees. We’re surprised and disappointed that union leaders would call a strike at this point in the negotiations, particularly when we’re offering terms that would help our employees – some of whom average from $121,000 to $134,000 in total compensation – be even better off.

We have offered the union terms that are consistent with what other CWA-represented employees have approved in recent contract negotiations; the company has reached 20 fair agreements since 2017 covering more than 89,000 employees. The Southeast contract covers fewer than 8 percent of our employees.

We’re prepared for a strike and in the event of a work stoppage, we will continue working hard to serve our customers.”

For Regan, he said he doesn’t believe they’re offering fair negotiations, and said they’ll continue to strike until they feel they’re truly being heard.

“We will be on strike until the company sends somebody to the table that can make decisions," Regan said.

KPLC has reached out to the union, Communications Workers of America, for a statement, and is waiting to hear back.

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