AT&T

Union members of the Communications Workers of America working for AT&T voted this week to authorize a strike if negotiations with the Dallas-based telecommunications giant doesn't produce a new contract.

Union members working for AT&T voted this week to authorize a strike in Louisiana and eight other states if negotiations with the Dallas-based telecommunications giant don't produce a new contract.

The current Communications Workers of America contract with AT&T Southeast expires on Aug. 3. AT&T began negotiating with the union on June 24, according to the company. AT&T Southeast has 20,000 workers across Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. 

The AT&T Southeast negotiations included workers concerns over mandatory overtime, safety and job security, among other issues. 

In June, AT&T sent job cut notifications for 1,800 positions to unionized workers — which included 117 jobs across Louisiana — according to Communications Workers of America. The layoffs were tied to AT&T's wireline business, or landline phones. 

"Our members are prepared to do whatever it takes to support their negotiations," Richard Honeycutt, vice president for District 3 of Communications Workers of America, said in a press release.

The union recently came to a tentative agreement with AT&T Legacy and AT&T Midwest, which included pay increases for employees. The company is bullish that it will reach a similar agreement with AT&T Southeast workers that is fair.

"We’re confident an agreement will be reached," AT&T said in a statement. 

AT&T has made 19 fair labor agreements since 2017 that affect 88,000 employees. 

"It is in nobody’s best interest to have a strike. Nevertheless, preparing for contingencies is all part of what we do for customers," the company said.

The union said that AT&T is a profitable business and has received significant tax breaks after the corporate tax rate was cut for all companies in late 2017. The union wants the company to invest in its infrastructure and workforce across the country, in addition to keeping customer service jobs in the U.S. rather than overseas. 

The union represents more than 150,000 workers across AT&T.

This story has been updated to accurately reflect when AT&T began negotiating with the Communications Workers of America union representing AT&T Southeast workers. 

Email Kristen Mosbrucker at kmosbrucker@theadvocate.com.