AT&T is challenging a new Minnesota law allowing workers to use paid sick time to care for family members.
But as the Fortune 500 telecommunications company appears before a federal judge in Minneapolis on Friday, members of the Communications Workers of America will rally outside the courthouse with a simple message: AT&T is not above the law.
The rally will begin at 10:30 a.m. Friday, July 17, outside the U.S. Courthouse, 300 4th St. S., Minneapolis. [Click here to view the Facebook event page.]
AT&T’s challenge involves only workers with more than 25 years of experience with the company, who have seen their requests for sick pay to cover time spent caring for family members denied. Similar requests from less-tenured workers have been approved by the company.
CWA, the union that represents AT&T workers in Minnesota and across the country, has filed grievances on behalf of employees, and the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry last year issued a direction to comply with Minnesota Statute 181.9413, which expands sick leave to cover family members.
But AT&T has delayed resolution on both fronts by challenging the law in federal court.
“AT&T is actually spending more money on lawyers to avoid following the law than it would cost them to comply with it,” CWA Local 7250 President Shari Wojtowicz said.
Debra Derke, an AT&T employee for nearly 30 years, estimated she’s lost eight months’ pay since her husband suffered a string of medical emergencies that began with a heart attack in August 2013.
“They’re basically discriminating against their most senior, most dedicated people, the people who have made this company what it is,” Local 7250 member Susan Anderson said. “It’s shameful, especially with the profits they have, the perks that their CEO gets. Yet they are basically trying to nickel and dime us to death.”