AT&T is cutting 3,400 union jobs from its wireline and phone network services as well as closing 250 wireless retail stores, according to a union representing AT&T employees. Wireline’s job cuts were initially “voluntary” through buyouts, but AT&T will continue to layoffs if not enough workers volunteer.
The total number of planned job cuts is apparently more than double that, because AT&T told Ars that it is cutting even more non-union jobs than union jobs. The cuts are a continuation of what AT&T has called a multi-year “oricount-rationalization” project.
“AT&T has informed the Communications Workers of America (CWA) of its plans to cut 3,400 technician and clerical jobs across the country in the next few weeks,” The union said in a press release yesterday. “In addition, the company plans to permanently close over 250 AT&T Mobility and Cricket Wireless stores, affecting 1,300 retail jobs.”
CWA Communications Director Beth Allen told Ars that “the majority of our 3,400 positions are technicians” for the wireline network. While the CWA does not yet have a complete list of job cuts from every position, Allen estimates that “fewer than 100 are clerical or direct customer service (for example, billing agents).” This would mean that AT&T is laying off more than 3,000 workers who maintain and upgrade the copper and cable networks that deliver phone and broadband service in 21 states.
“AT&T is offering voluntary buyouts for many jobs on the wireline side. If they don’t get enough volunteers in the positions they’re looking to cut, the company will move to the unauthorized cutting,” Allen told Ars. “We are continuing to work to minimize job losses, and our collective bargaining agreements provide for layoffs and relocation provisions for many members.”
AT&T also plans to “permanently close over 250 AT&T Mobility and Cricket Wireless stores, affecting 1,300 retail jobs,” the group’s announcement said. Allen told Ars that “it’s not yet clear how many workers affected by the store closings will be able to find another assignment and how many will go off the payroll.”
AT&T did not disclose the total number of job cuts
Allen told Ars that “all the cuts we know about — 3,400 wireline and people in retail stores — are representative of the CWA.” But this is apparently less than half of the total job cuts, as AT&T told Ars today that “we will be laying off more non-salaried workers — most of whom are outside the United States — than we are managers or union representatives. .”
AT&T did not disclose the total number of job cuts for either union or non-union employees.
“We think AT&T should disclose more information about its non-premium, contract performance,” Allen said. “These will include call center salespeople, both domestic and overseas, authorized retailers, and contract engineering and construction workers. There is absolutely no way to verify their claims about reducing that workforce. if they don’t regularly report on it.”
Epidemic acceleration “headcount ratio”
AT&T said the retail store closings “reflect our customers’ shopping habits.” While these ideas are not new, they have been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
But wireless networks like AT&T have proven to be an important part of the pandemic economy, and AT&T is planning major service cuts even before the coronavirus pandemic forces millions of Americans to stay home and use Internet data. more. On March 3, AT&T President and COO John Stankey told investors about a three-year cost-cutting plan to generate billions in savings. Stankey said there will be 10 cost-cutting initiatives, including “headcount resolution,” or what the rest of us call job cuts or layoffs. (Stankey is set to become AT&T CEO on July 1 when Randall Stephenson retires.)
The “tax ratio” is a continuation of layoffs from previous years. AT&T reduced its workforce from 268,220 to 247,800 in 2019 alone, despite promising to use corporate tax cuts to create thousands of new jobs. AT&T cut another 3,310 jobs in Q1 2020. In all, AT&T has cut 41,128 jobs since the end of 2017, according to a CWA press release. These numbers do not include contractors.
Despite AT&T cutting thousands of jobs both before and during the pandemic, Allen said “AT&T executives have made it clear through their public statements that, shamefully, they are using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to speed up their already destructive job cuts. “
The Dallas Morning News tell AT&T Communications division CEO Jeff McElfresh told investors yesterday that “the world gave AT&T a ‘head start’ on its cost-cutting plan.”
“Legacy” copper network affected
AT&T’s statement to Ars said the cuts “combined with our focus on growth areas with low customer demand for some of our most expensive products and the economic impact and consumer attitudes resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic .”
The reference to “the most expensive products” refers at least in part to AT&T’s copper network, which in many areas is unable to provide modern broadband speeds and is poorly maintained. Therefore, large portions of AT&T’s wired network would not be described as “legacy” if AT&T upgraded those areas to fiber. But with AT&T halting its fiber-to-the-home deployment, the company in October announced it plans to cut $3 billion in capital investments in 2020.
Inside Q1 2020, AT&T’s company-wide revenue was $42.8 billion, down from $44.8 billion in the first quarter of last year. Company-wide operating income was $7.5 billion, up from $7.2 billion year over year.
AT&T said it “worked with union leadership on an enhanced offer for wireline technicians that includes significant voluntary severance incentives of up to $100,000, and nearly all of the reductions affecting wireline technicians are voluntary at this time. Affected retail workers will receive an offer of another position with the company, most of which they can work from home.
“Downsizing our workforce is a difficult decision that we do not take lightly,” AT&T reiterated. “For employees who leave as part of these changes, we offer severance pay and company-provided health coverage for 6 months for eligible employees.”
CWA was not satisfied and, in its press release, took aim at one of Stephenson’s recent statements on the company’s response to the pandemic:
Last month, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson described the COVID-19 crisis as “war time“During an interview on CNN Stephenson went on to say, “Everyone needs to step up and do their part, in terms of how we help everyone and the public.”
“If we are in a war to keep our economy going during this crisis, why is AT&T firing the troops?” said Communications Workers of America Chris Shelton. “CWA and AT&T have been working together to protect employee and customer health and safety and to provide premium pay for critical workers. The company has shown interest in investing in its employees and network it through cancel planned stock buybacks. AT&T can help lead the country toward recovery by working with its workforce to build next-generation networks. Instead the company is adding to the pain of an already ongoing recession. “