Union pledges fight as AT&T plans more Twin Cities store closings

Local job cuts at AT&T will continue this spring, when the company plans to close three more wireless retail locations in the Twin Cities suburbs, according to Communications Workers Local 7250.

The union, which represents AT&T wireless sales reps, technicians and call-center employees in Minnesota, received official notification of the store closings yesterday.

AT&T closed nine retail stores across the state last summer, and has been shamelessly outsourcing and offshoring American jobs at a steady clip in recent years. The cuts have come despite AT&T’s promise that then-President Trump’s 2017 tax cut, which put billions into the company’s coffers, would create new jobs.

That will never happen, AT&T retail sales consultant Larry Thompson said, unless executives feel pressured to live up to their promises. Thompson, a Local 7250 officer who works in the company’s St. Paul store, said the union is at work on plans to exert that pressure.

“We all see the writing on the wall,” he said.

A year ago, Local 7250 represented workers in 36 AT&T Wireless locations statewide. By June that total will have dropped to 24.

Each store employs five sales reps, on average. They typically earn around $17 per hour in base pay, plus commission and benefits, Thompson said.

The company closed 250 stores nationwide last summer and, in October, warned of more cuts to come. CWA Local 7250 President Kieran Knutson said the three Minnesota stores set to close this spring – in Apple Valley, Shakopee and West St. Paul – are among 95 closing nationwide in April and May.

CWA’s nationwide contract with AT&T guarantees workers the opportunity to transfer to other wireless stores within a 30-mile radius or, if they meet the qualifications, to work from home as a customer-service consultant.

That softens the blow some. But Thompson said customer-service reps earn considerably less than sales reps without commission, and AT&T “has closed so many stores, we’re running out of places to put people.”

Stores slated to close typically reopen as nonunion “authorized retailers,” selling AT&T products and services but not owned by the company. The products are the same, but the experience inside the store is different for both workers and customers.

“They typically reduce sales staff to he bone, and they don’t offer the same kinds of benefits, wages and job security that our contract guarantees on top of the commissions,” Knutson said.

“They don’t operate with the same integrity,” Thompson added. “Everybody who works at a corporate-owned store has had a negative experience with authorized retailers because of that.

“We get paid well, we do a great job and we keep our jobs. It’s that simple.”

Find a list of corporate-owned stores, staffed by Local 7250 members, on the union’s website.

Meanwhile, supporters should stay tuned to the union’s social media feed for upcoming actions pushing back against job cuts at AT&T, Knutson said.

“This is a clear union-busting move by the company,” he said. “Behind all of these cuts are some real people and their families. We’re not going to take this lying down.”

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