As AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) reaps $21 billion tax windfall, potential house hearing looms ahead of shareholder meeting
Communications Workers of America (CWA) members facing stalled contract negotiations and over 12,000 layoffs are pressuring Congress to investigate AT&T on tax bill spending
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DALLAS (April 26, 2019) – Ahead of AT&T’s annual shareholder meeting in Dallas, Texas on Friday, AT&T workers are pressuring Congress to investigate AT&T and call the company’s CEO Randall Stephenson to testify before the House Ways and Means Committee about why AT&T has not kept its promise to use its enormous tax cut benefits to create jobs and invest in American communities.
This week, CWA released a set of videos providing AT&T workers’ personal, firsthand accounts of the layoffs and outsourcing that are driving the push for a Congressional investigation of AT&T’s broken promises on the tax bill. The videos are part of an online advertising campaign which encourages concerned customers to join the call for an investigation by sending letters to Congress.
CWA is also recommending that shareholders vote for an independent chair – a proposal strongly supported by Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) – and against AT&T’s executive compensation package.
“Shareholders, workers and the American public deserve to know what AT&T is doing with its windfall from the tax bill, if it’s not being used to create jobs and invest in the U.S.,” said CWA President Chris Shelton. “Workers at AT&T are facing devastating cuts, closures and forced relocations—many, after giving decades of work to a company that promised them better and lobbied for the tax bill under false pretenses. We’re not going to back down in our efforts to hold AT&T accountable.”
In March, CWA’s President Shelton testified in front of the House Ways and Means Committee about the impact of the tax bill on American workers and called on Congress to probe AT&T on how it is spending its tax cut money. Although AT&T lobbied for the tax bill and said it would create more good middle-class jobs and raise wages, the telecom giant’s own numbers show it has eliminated over 12,000 jobs since the tax cuts took effect, compounding workers’ concerns about the company’s practice of shifting work to low-wage overseas contractors which may pose a threat to quality customer service and AT&T’s brand.
AT&T recently announced the closure of call centers in Indianapolis, Ind., Kalamazoo, Mich., Appleton, Wis., Syracuse, N.Y, and Meriden, Conn. In March, AT&T announced a major restructuring in its WarnerMedia unit which is expected to result in significant layoffs
AT&T’s response to concerns about layoffs with boasts about hiring have been met with skepticism, since hiring to address turnover is not the same as job creation.
Over 14,000 members of the Communications Workers of America in the Midwest, Puerto Rico and in AT&T’s national Legacy T unit are currently in contract negotiations with AT&T, and another 22,000 in the Southeast will begin negotiations later this year. In Puerto Rico where AT&T workers worked tirelessly to rebuild the AT&T network, help customers, and make sure people could reach their loved ones after Hurricane Maria, the company is refusing to ensure its two Puerto Rican call centers will stay open, even though it has recently opened call centers in Mexico that serve the U.S. market.
This comes as AT&T’s latest annual report shows the company boosted executive pay and suggests that after refunds, it paid no cash income taxes in 2018 and slashed capital investments by $1.4 billion.