Several area AT&T workers and members of the Communication Workers of America Union on Tuesday were standing outside the AT&T field office located on St. Francis Street in Bay St. Louis protesting "unfair labor practices."
"This isn't about money," Local CWA 3519 President Glenn Posey said Tuesday. "It's about better benefits, a better working life, and providing customers with the best service."
The strike began Friday at 11 p.m. central time, Posey said.
There are about 20,000 workers on strike, he said, from District 3 CWA.
The southeast region of the CWA encompasses Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, South Caroline, Kentucky, and Tennessee, Posey said.
The contract between CWA and AT&T ended in August, Posey said.
"The last time we met at the table was Aug. 20," he said. "They sent someone who didn't have the authority to make a decision, accept what we offered, or counter-propose."
Posey said that there are about four field workers and 12 to 15 managers that declined to participate in the strike and they are handling the South Mississippi region.
Greg Taylor, a wireline technician, was on strike Tuesday in Bay St. Louis.
"Hopefully, they will send someone to the table that will actually bargain with us," Taylor said. "Hopefully AT&T will come to the table and give us a reason to stop."
Posey said that on Monday, AT&T sent authorized representatives to speak with representatives from the CWA, including District 3 CWA President Richard Honeycutt.
In an emailed statement, AT&T spokesperson Jim Kimberly said that "a strike is in no one's best interest."
"We remain steady to sit down with union leaders to negotiate a new improved contract for our employees," Kimberly said. "Our bargaining team is negotiating with CWA leaders in the same way we have successfully done with other CWA contracts over the years. We listen, engage in substantive discussions and share proposals back and forth until we reach agreement. That's why we're surprised and disappointed that union leaders would call for a strike at this point in the negotiations, particularly when we're offering terms that would help our employees – some of whom average from $121,000 to $134,000 in total compensation – be even better off."
Kimberly said that AT&T has reached "20 fair agreements since 2017 covering more than 89,000 employees."
He added that fewer than eight percent of AT&T's employees are covered under the Southeast contract.