AT&T is cutting 1,800 jobs, a move that comes with contract talks about to begin in Atlanta with union leaders. (Bloomberg photo by Craig Warga)
Photo: Craig Warga
Photo: Craig Warga

AT&T to cut 151 jobs in Georgia, including 40 in metro Atlanta

New contract talks with workers to start in Atlanta on Monday

AT&T is cutting 1,800 landline jobs, including 151 in Georgia, of which 40 are in metro Atlanta, according to union representatives preparing to negotiate a new contract with the company.

What’s happening

Union officials decried the action, arguing that the company has shed 23,000 jobs in less than two years while reaping a massive windfall from the 2017 tax cuts. The union accused the Dallas-based telecom giant of breaking its promise to use the added profit to create jobs and improve its infrastructure.

“The technicians being cut are folks who do maintenance and new installs,” said Beth Allen, spokeswoman for the union. “And we have summer storm season coming on. The fewer people they have, the harder it is do that work in a timely fashion.”

AT&T defends move

The company rejected those charges, arguing that it has spent $130 million in the past five years on investments in wireless and landline infrastructure. The company declined to offer specifics, but said it has continued to hire in some areas, even if it cuts in others.

“We’re not commenting on numbers or locations,” said company spokesman Marty Richter, in an emailed statement. “We are making some staff reductions involving technicians who install and repair certain services and network systems.”

Company: Cuts are not ‘layoffs’

The company also said it would be misleading to call the action “layoffs,” since many of the workers affected will be offered another job within the company, though not necessarily in the same location.

AT&T had not announced the reductions. The news broke after the company sent its quarterly update to the Communications Workers of America, which represents tens of thousands of AT&T employees – including 5,000 working in the Georgia units handling the company’s landlines.

The four-year contract between the company and those workers is set to expire on August 3. Negotiations toward a new contract are to begin in Atlanta on Monday.

The union also represents 950 Georgia workers in AT&T Mobility, the company’s wireless unit. That includes retail workers, techs and call center.

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