Poised to strike this weekend, AT&T wireless workers seek support on picket line

Melinda Casey of Minneapolis is among 2,000 AT&T wireless workers in Minnesota poised to strike this weekend. “I have a family to support. I have two children. I need a job that’s secure,” she said.

Some 21,000 AT&T wireless workers in 36 states – including about 2,000 in Minnesota – plan to strike this weekend, a show of frustration over the company’s failure to negotiate a new contract that protects good, family-supporting jobs.

The strike is set to begin at 2 p.m. tomorrow unless AT&T and the Communications Workers of America, which represents wireless workers, reach a tentative agreement before then. AT&T wireless workers have never been on strike before, and it could drastically limit AT&T’s ability to handle traffic at 27 company-owned retail stores in Minnesota and hundreds more across the U.S.

Members of Twin Cities-based CWA Locals 7200 and 7250 are seeking support on picket lines across the state, including the following metro locations:

  • Apple Valley: 7634 – 150th St. W
  • Coon Rapids: 12481 Poppy St. NW
  • Maple Grove: 8105 Wedgewood Ln.
  • Roseville: 2724 Lincoln Dr.
  • Woodbury: 10100 City Walk Dr.
  • Eden Prairie retail store, 590 Prairie Center Dr.
  • Minnetonka: 1800 Plymouth Rd.

Workers say AT&T has offered only meager pay raises in negotiations – not nearly enough to cover the increased share of health insurance premiums the company is demanding workers pay. Commission rates, job security and sick pay are also sticking points in talks, which “are stalled right now,” CWA Minnesota State Council President Mona Meyer said.

Local 7200 member Melinda Casey, who works in AT&T Mobility’s Bloomington call center, said she’s fighting to support her two children, one of whom is epileptic. Casey earns the contract’s top wage scale of $18.57 per hour, and out-of-pocket medical costs, including a $2,500-per-patient deductible, already absorb a big portion of her earnings, she said.

Brian Gnerer

“If they raise premiums then that essentially washes out any type of pay raise we would get,” she said. “It makes it easy to walk out on Friday, knowing it’s the only way to bring a better contract.”

Brian Gnerer, who works in the Bloomington call center too, echoed Casey’s sentiment.

“I’m for the strike,” Gnerer said. “Thinking short term, I need to make sure I get my bills paid, but I also want to have a decent life after I’m done working. That means getting paid more, getting better health care so I can maybe put more money away for my future. And I’m willing to do what I need to do to get there.”

“Overall, I feel like there is a lot of unity” in our bargaining unit, Casey added.

Learn more about the contract negotiations at www.unityatmobility.com.

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