LAFAYETTE — AT&T employees across nine states are planning to go on strike starting Friday night.
Union representatives of AT&T's District Three say 20,000 wire line employees will go on strike starting at 11:00 p.m. Some employees started picketing this week at various locations.
District Three covers Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Communications Workers of America has a chapter in Lafayette. President John Copas says around 150 workers will be picketing at their normal work sites starting at 7 a.m. Saturday.
Copas says they are striking because of unfair labor practices and because they are working without a contract.
"They have not bargained in good faith by sending personnel who are not able to make decisions. When it comes to the things that matter, the people at the table are not able to give a yes or no answer because they are not the proper person," Copas said.
Bargaining in "bad faith" happens when "it is the intent of the employer not to reach an agreement with the union." Some indicators of "bad faith" bargaining are as follows: cancelling bargaining sessions, imposing conditions on bargaining, and withdrawing accepted offers.
Learn more about "bad faith" bargaining here.
AT&T says they are aware of the strike.
"We're prepared for a strike and in the event of a work stoppage, we will continue working hard to serve our customers," Jim Kimberly, a spokesperson for AT&T said, "A strike would be in no one's best interest. We're baffled as to why union leadership would call one when we're offering terms that would help our employees some of whom average from $121,000 to $134,000 in total compensation be even better off."
Copas says employee take-home pay is less than what it was 10 years ago.
"But this strike isn't about those economic issues, this is about them not treating us fair at the bargaining table," said Copas.
"We have offered the union terms that are consistent with what other CWA represented employees have approved in recent contract negotiations; the company has reached 20 fair agreements since 2017 covering more than 89,000 employees," Kimberly said.
Copas says the strike could last 3-5 days.