BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Across Baton Rouge and the country, AT&T technicians have walked out of work and are on strike. They are demanding the company come to the table and negotiate a new contract for their labor.
The picketers have been working in shifts. They began striking for what they’re calling “unfair labor practices.”
The Communication Workers of America (CWA), the union that represents AT&T’s technicians, called for the strike after it says AT&T sent representatives that could not make final decisions to negotiate a new contract for its workers. That contract handles salaries, health insurance, and benefits. Representatives were careful to note the contract was not the reason for the strike.
“It’s something that pains us to do, but we have to. We are doing this to ensure that we have a future,” said Colby Blunt, a tech for AT&T and the strike captain for the CWA in Baton Rouge. “We are doing this to ensure that we are able to continue to give our customers the best service.”
Customers could be without service because of this strike though.
"Right now, we are not giving any service calls or anything,” said Eddie Webb, treasurer for the Baton Rouge chapter of the CWA.
Webb says it’s not just customers being inconvenienced. The nearly 300 workers on strike across Baton Rouge are going without pay until they go back to work.
"When we’re striking, we don’t get paid. The company doesn’t get service calls fixed, so a strike really isn’t good for anybody,” he said. “We don’t want to strike, but then we also want the company to send people to the bargaining table to bargain fair.”
For Blunt, the sacrifice is worth it.
"It’s always difficult, but we’re doing it to ensure that we have paychecks in the future,” Blunt said.
The CWA hopes to have this dispute settled by midweek, but would not provide a more firm timeline.
AT&T workers from across the state are also participating in the strike.