AT&T union workers in the region continue to rally for 'fair contracts'
LEBANON, Va. - AT&T continues to negotiate union contracts for more than 21,000 wireless employees across the country, 500 of those are located in just Virginia alone. On Monday union employees held a rally outside one of the company's call centers in Lebanon, Virginia.
These employees contracts expired in February, they've now been working without one for more than 3 months, but they say they won't stop until the contracts are fair. The sticking points include better wages, health benefits and working conditions.
"Take us seriously, we're providing you billions of dollars on a year basis, all we're asking is for a fair share," said Jodi Aker, an AT&T employee and union member.
Aker works in customer service and sales, her main concern is an attendance policy that makes it difficult for her, a mother of two kids, to work for the company.
"This is my future as well as my kid's future in the company's hands," said Aker. "They just need to work with us."
Union members have been staging rallies around the region for months, including the one on Monday in Lebanon.
"In organizing this I feel that we are empowering each other to stand up and say yes we do have a voice, yes we deserve a middle class wage," said Johnny Lyttle, AT&T employee and Union Representative for the Communications Workers of America Union.
A majority of workers have already voted to authorize a strike if necessary. Employees say while that's not what they want, if negotiations fail that's exactly what they'll do.
"If it comes to it, and that's what it takes, then yes we will walk out the door," said Lyttle.
News Five reached out to AT&T to get their response to the negotiations, their spokesperson sent us a statement saying in part:
"We're offering annual wage and pension increases, as well as comprehensive healthcare benefits."
The spokesperson also said, "We're confident employees will be better off financially in their new contract."
However employees disagree and say they're taking a stand for workers everywhere.
"It may be one of the last big fights if we end up not coming out somehow ahead in this," said Lyttle.