Tuesday, February 14, 2012
It was early December when AT&T employees in the South East received a letter thanking them for helping the company make record profits. AT&T racked up so much cash that they were able to pay their CEO, Randall Stephenson, over 27 million dollars!
Just six days later AT&T workers received a second letter, informing workers that 740 good paying Union jobs would be cut in March of 2012. An interesting way of thanking the very group that makes AT&T super rich, it's workers.
Yesterday AT&T experienced a surprise invasion of their Atlanta headquarters. At 12pm, the worlds largest communications corporation , twelve of us enter their building with one simple demand; resend all layoffs, all job cuts. We were willing to talk with whoever,but it was stated plainly that we would not leave unless a commitment to the 740 Union jobs under threat was made.
About ten or fifteen minutes later about 100 Occupy Atlanta and Union members showed up on the outside of the building with signs and tents! As AT&T executives grappled with what to do with us, sixteen tents were being set up on the sidewalk in front of AT&T. That occupation comes with the commitment to stay until AT&T resend all job cuts.
Close to 1pm the police threatened those of us on the inside with arrest. We decided to circle up, doing our large heart necklaces we made over the weekend, and sing slightly remixed love songs. It was only a few minutes later that we were arrested, taken to the basement of AT&T, put in police vans, and driven to Fulton County jail. It was a proud moment for me. Of the twelve we had two retired AT&T workers and CWA members, we had folks from Atlanta Jobs with Justice,Occupy Atlanta, the Teamsters,and of course AFSC in the house. The group represented to kind of alliances we need to turn the corner on the crisis of economic priority that continues to lift up those who already have an overabundance, and push down everyone else.
I got out of jail early this morning. I've just read the press coverage of Monday's action and took notice to AT&T's response. They claim that many of the 740 laid off workers will be given job offers. This is probably true. The problem is that they will be offered jobs that pay considerably less, have no bargaining rights, and have little or no benefits. Workers should never be forced to go backwards for a company that's reporting record profits. If AT&T really were struggling, which they aren't, they should consider taking a chop from the top as a first resort.
Monday's action confronted one of the roots or America's(and the globe for that matter)unprecedented wealth inequities. Perhaps we will wake up one day to a world that's had enough corporate greed. Perhaps we'll grow tired of a world that rewards those willing to build their life on the shattered dreams of their brothers and sisters. Imaging a movement that will not allow workers(profit creaters) to be exploited and discarded, a movement that physically stands in the way of those that create wealth at the cost of human misery. Imagine the unstoppable force of workers, students, the unemployed, shelter less, the Churches working together side by side to demand with their feet a more just world.
Some of us are already beyond imagining that world, some of use are trying to build it.....we need help:)
American Friends Service Committee