On August 23, 20,000 Communication Workers of America members at AT&T across the Southeast went on strike, citing unfair labor practices against AT&T, which had “sent a negotiation team to Atlanta who did not have the authority to reach a settlement. The Contract expired on Aug 3rd…” explained Steve Monk, president of CWA Local Chapter 3902 in Birmingham, Alabama, speaking to Liberation. The historic four-day mass industrial strike forced corporate giant AT&T back to the bargaining table with CWA, this time with authority to bargain.
The mobilized workers were supported during their strike by the CWA at both a national and local level, with strikers receiving strike pay and health care funding, as well as other union assistance. In southeastern “right-to-work” states like Alabama, where much of the wage-earning class receive little to no legal protections, seeing a strong national union like the CWA in action makes a persuasive case for working class organizing.
On August 28, strikers returned to work, while CWA representatives met with legitimate AT&T bargaining officials. “CWA members’ spirit and solidarity over the last four days showed the company that we would not back down until they bargained with us in good faith,” CWA District 3 Vice President Richard Honeycutt told Liberation. “This was a historic strike that showed the power that working people have when they join together.”
On August 30, CWA announced that a new tentative 5-year agreement had been struck, which includes wage increases of 13.25 percent, pension and 401(k) plan enhancements, improved job security and additional customer service positions, as well as enhancements of union members health insurance plans. The current results of the strike clearly show that union power can compel corporate giants like AT&T to alter their greedy tactics.