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Union on strike, picketing AT&T

Members of a union representing communication workers plan to picket their company over unfair labor practices.

The strike against AT&T will start today at 8 a.m., said Tony Clements, president of Local 3513 of Communication Workers of America.

Clements expects several dozen employees to be involved in the strike as they picket the AT&T office on East Monticello Street, across from First Baptist Church.

The strike will not affect mobility stores such as the one in Brookhaven in the strip mall behind Sonic, he said.

CWA Local 3513 is part of District 3, which includes Mississippi as well as Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina, North Carolina and Puerto Rico.

Clements and the other workers in Local 3513 are responsible for maintaining AT&T internet services, cell towers, the E-911 system and T1 circuits to businesses. While the strike is underway, they won’t respond to any service calls, he said.

“If they have service interruptions, calls may be delayed,” he said. “Nobody can do what we do. We’re the guys trained to do it. We will not be working.”

Clements said the CWA filed charges against AT&T with the National Labor Relations Board over the company’s “unfair labor practices.”

He can’t anticipate how long the strike will last, but is prepared to be out of work for a while.

“Hopefully, we’ll get it resolved quickly,” he said.

According to an Aug. 19 media release from the CWA office in Decatur, Georgia, contract negotiations between the District 3 bargaining team and the company’s leadership team had stalled. The CWA said their negotiators were arguing for better wages, benefits and working conditions, but the process was not being respected.

In the release, the CWA claims AT&T’s lead negotiator doesn’t have the authority to bargain an agreement with the union, to settle the contract or make minor decisions about the negotiations.

That determination caused CWA to file an unfair labor practice charge against AT&T.

The company responded to The Daily Leader Friday in regards to today’s strike:

“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,” said Jim Kimberly, director of corporate communications for AT&T Global Media Relations in an email to The Daily Leader. “We’re prepared for a strike and in the event of a work stoppage, we will continue working hard to serve our customers. A strike would be in no one’s best interest. We’re baffled as to why union leadership would call one 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.”