Strikers picket AT&T locations through Sunday - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Strikers picket AT&T locations through Sunday

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Pickter signs up outside the AT&T store on Boardman-Canfield Rd. in Boardman Pickter signs up outside the AT&T store on Boardman-Canfield Rd. in Boardman
Strikers march outside the AT&T call center on South Ave. in Boardman Strikers march outside the AT&T call center on South Ave. in Boardman

Picket lines went up Friday afternoon at the AT&T call center on South Avenue in Boardman as members of the Communication Workers of America joined 40,000 other workers around the nation on a three-day strike.

The strike got underway when the 3 p.m. deadline passed without the union and company reaching agreement on a new labor contract to replace one that expired in February.

A spokesperson for CWA 4320 tells 21 News the union wants better pay, to stop the riding cost of health care and job security.

"We are looking for job security to stop the call center jobs from going overseas and getting outsourced and the retail stores from getting turned over to retail authorized users," said CWA 4320 Spokesperson Renee Rouser.

The protestors stood their ground, despite a heavy rain shower that moved through, until about 5 p.m. when they then joined forces with retail workers and took their message to the AT&T store location on State Route 224.

Other store locations across the Valley also had union workers protesting outside including the one along State Route 422 in Niles.

A sign posted outside of the Boardman location in Tiffany Square Plaza said "This store is closed today." Union workers tell 21 News the closure was due to the strike.

The union said in a media statement that the strike "could" result in the closure of AT&T's retail stores over the weekend.

According to the CWA's website the union plans to picket AT&T stores around the country, including one in Austintown, two in Boardman and two in Niles on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Representatives say they recognize the strike may cause a temporary inconveince to customers but, they hope it pays off in the long run.

"It's more of an inconveince from what we hear from our customers that they have to deal with an untrained rep in a store, or a call center employee from Bangladesh that can't speak English and can't help with the problems," said Staff Representative for CWA District 4 Ron Gay. "Then those problems get back routed to these people behind me and the people who work in the stores and they have to fix the thing the retailers do wrong and what the foreign call centers screw up."

The strike includes workers in 36 states covered by the AT&T Mobility contract, as well as workers at AT&T West, AT&T East in Connecticut and DIRECTV in California and Nevada.

An AT&T Spokesperson emailed 21 News this statement:

"A strike is in no one's best interest, and it's baffling that union leadership would call one when we're offering terms in which our employees in these contracts - some of whom average from $115,000 to $148,000 in total compensation - will be better off financially.

We're prepared, and we will continue working hard to serve our customers.

What's most important is we're all family, whether you're a union member or not. Like any family we have our disagreements but we'll sort them out. We've reached 29 fair agreements since 2015 covering over 128,000 of our employees, and we're confident we can do the same here.

We're offering generous terms in these negotiations including annual wage and pension increases, as well as comprehensive health care benefits, similar to what other employees across the country have ratified in other contracts. We're confident employees will be better off financially in their new contract.

The two contracts together involve only about 13 percent of our employees."
 

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