Union’s Strike Against AT&T Wireless Closes Retail Stores

South Bend Tribune/JAMES BROSHER Jennifer Girten, left, Bob Makin and Jeremy Bishop, hold signs during a Communication Workers of American Local 4900 solidarity strike against AT&T on Monday, May 7, 2012, outside of the AT&T warehouse on Cleveland Road. The strike was to show support for a grievance strike in Anderson, Ind.

CWA claims the union’s strike closed a number of AT&T stores over the weekend.

Representing more than 21,000 AT&T Wireless workers, the Communications Workers of America called its first-ever three-day strike last week, taking credit for “sporadic store closings from Montana to Chicago to Bangor, ME,” according to Fortune.com.

Still, AT&T said the “vast majority” of its stores were open despite the first labor strike against the company in four years. “We’re committed to delivering the best service we possibly can this weekend,” a spokesman said. “We’re open for business.”

The striking wireless workers, whose contract expired in February, walked off the job on Friday afternoon after AT&T failed to meet a union-set deadline for a new agreement. They have been joined by about 17,000 striking workers in AT&T’s traditional wireline telephone and Internet business in Nevada and California who have been working without a contract for over a year. Additional workers in the wireline business in Connecticut and the DirecTV unit in California are also on strike, the CWA says.

Unlike its main rival, Verizon Wireless, AT&T Wireless is predominantly unionized throughout the U.S. and, as a result, more prone to falling victim to work stoppages.

Verizon Wireless, on the other hand, is not. Nevertheless, the strike marks the CWA’s first work stoppage at AT&T Wireless.

According to a CWA press release, the strikers encompassed “four different union contracts and include wireless workers in 36 states and DC; wireline workers in California, Nevada and Connecticut; and DIRECTV technicians in California and Nevada.”

The union’s three-day strike is a significant departure from its more traditional telecom strikes, which often last weeks and, sometimes, months.

While AT&T had some disruptions, and employees who were scheduled to work lost income, the union does not typically pay strike pay until the third week of a strike.

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