To keep raking in the profits, AT&T has ruthlessly pursued subcontracting of call center work.
Cheektowaga Chronicle observed a handful of employees inside the AT&T store at 4900 Transit Road walk off the job to join over two dozen other striking CWA members outside.
Union leaders said they have been without a contract since February. "We are not engaged in a productive exchange here". "Coming around, asking, 'How many sales did you make?' They monitor every call, they nitpick every call that we take in there, and it's not a very good morale", said Sofia Simons, secretary for CWA Local 7110. The telco estimates that the striking workers account for about 13 per cent of its total workforce.
CWA members at the store on Venture Drive in Peru picketed, but it was not immediately clear whether any, all or how many employees there were on strike. "Retail workers' take home pay has plummeted in the a year ago after AT&T unilaterally changed its commission plan".
Locally, workers have posted reminders about the planned walkout on message boards and social media asking customers to show their support by not shopping at AT&T stores.
AT&T officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment but earlier this week said the company offers generous wage and pension benefits.
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It isn't the first strike at AT&T.
Employees claim the company is demanding more work for less and it is looking to third party dealers and overseas workers.
A one-day strike in March by approximately 17,000 call center and office workers represented by the Communications Workers of Americas in California and Nevada led to rapid contract settlement between the union and AT&T.
AT&T has been under pressure to control costs as its biggest business - wireless phone service - has matured and faced rising competition from Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile.
AT&T is also the only telecom company with a major union presence in its wireless business, which the company says makes it harder to compete. It is awaiting Justice Department approval for its proposed acquisition of Time Warner.
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