AT&T workers protest tech job outsourcing
Eric Gay / AP

CLEVELAND — Employees of communications giant AT&T in Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan rallied in Cleveland Monday, Dec. 3, to protest the company’s policy of closing service centers in the United States and shipping internet technology jobs to low-wage countries in Asia.

The Local 4 Color Guard in solidarity with our CWA sisters and brothers outside the Cleveland Convention Center. Local 4 FB.

Marching to the beats of a drum corps provided by Musicians Local 4, the workers picketed the Cleveland Convention Center where company CEO John Donovan was attending a conference on new “blockchain” technology aimed at stopping the hacking of corporate servers.

Across the country, union locals of the Communications Workers of America have been “decimated” and “forced into receivership,” said Gary Kundrat, President of CWA Local 4340 in Cleveland, which lost 100 members when its call center in suburban Brecksville closed in 2017.

Last summer, over 600 jobs were lost when call centers in Harrisburg, Pa. and Denver closed, he said. “The jobs went to contractors in the Philippines and India who pay workers $2-3 an hour, a tenth of union wages in the United States.”

At the same time, AT&T has gotten millions in federal subsidies and tax cuts, he added. “It’s just about corporate greed.”

Since the 1970s, thousands of jobs were eliminated in the Cleveland-Akron area, said Jeff Rechenbach, former CWA international vice president.

Negotiations for a new contract began in Chicago last March but are currently suspended.

“The issue is jobs,” said Jay Walther, President of CWA Local 4320 in Columbus, and a member of the union bargaining team. “The company won’t discuss it. We want guarantees of access to the jobs of the future and an end to the outsourcing of our members’ jobs.”

The CWA has set up a website, with a brief video and online petition to support their demands.


Rick Nagin
Rick Nagin

Rick Nagin has written for People's World and its predecessors since 1970. He has been active for many years in Cleveland politics and the labor movement.