Striking local AT&T workers stage protest on Main Street

Published 5:31 pm Monday, August 26, 2019

NATCHEZ — Natchez AT&T workers joined more than 20,000 company employees in a strike over what union leaders described as unfair labor practices.

The strike, which started Saturday, involves Communications Workers of America members in nine states across the southeastern U.S.

The union represents workers in telecom, media, airlines and other lines of work. The AT&T workers are on strike in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

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The workers who have walked off are technicians and customer service representatives for AT&T’s “wireline” home and business internet and phone division, not its cellphone division.

CWA officials said in a statement on its website that employees were disrespected when AT&T sent people to the bargaining table who lacked authority to make contract decisions. CWA has filed charges with the National Labor and Relations Board.

“We just want somebody to come to the table who can make decisions and talk to us,” said Larry Williams, CWA vice president of Local 3513. “We want someone to bargain with us to get a fair contract for us, for the company, for our customers.”

Williams picketed on the corner of Main and Martin Luther King Jr. streets in downtown Natchez Monday morning with more than 20 other workers from Natchez, Fayette, Roxie, Woodville and Gloster.

Williams said he and his colleagues started picketing Saturday and will continue the strike until it is called off by CWA District 3 Vice President Richard Honeycutt.

Workers from Vidalia, Ferriday and other areas in Louisiana are also affected, Williams said.

When asked if there will be service interruptions for customers, AT&T said that it’s prepared for a strike.

AT&T says it disagrees with the union’s claims of bad bargaining practices.

Telecom workers periodically go on strike, including about 17,000 AT&T workers in a one-day walkout in California and Nevada in 2017 and 39,000 Verizon workers who struck for six weeks in 2016.