Kentucky AT&T employees join strike across nine states over 'unfair labor practices'

Saturday marked the first day of a strike day for many AT&T employees.
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PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) -- Saturday marked the first day of a strike day for many AT&T employees.

"We're out on strike for unfair labor practices," said Joe Fields.

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) has filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board.

CWA has a chapter in Pike County. Fields is the President of Local chapter 3317.

Joe and around 15 other employees spent their Saturday in the parking lot near the AT&T branch on Chloe Road in Pikeville.

However, they are not alone. Around 20,000 AT&T wireline employees covering Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee are also on strike. Plus, employees from other locations across Kentucky.

Fields said they are striking due to unfair labor practices and because they are working without a contract.

"You spend your career here and everyone looks to just stay here and have a fair contract, fair wages, health care. We just want better for our members," explained Fields.

“We entered these negotiations prepared to bargain in good faith with AT&T to address our members’ concerns and to work together to find solutions,” said CWA Vice President Richard Honeycutt.

"Our talks have stalled because it has become clear that AT&T has not sent negotiators who have the power to make decisions so we can move forward toward a new contract."

Officials said their contracts ended on August third and after weekly renewals, they are worried.

"But we're out here with no contract right now so it leaves a lot of open ends that are kind of scary for the members. We don't know what the future holds," said FIelds.

Fields told WYMT, they do not want anything more than what they have been offered. They only want the contracts they have been handed in the past.

The strike involves over 20,000 technicians, customer service representatives and others who install, maintain and support AT&T's residential and business wireline telecommunications network.

"They're not having someone who can legitimately bargain the contract. They just keep ping-ponging and backing up on what they're saying," Fiends pointed out.

While on strike, Fields explained that some customers may experience response delays.

"Having these men who are not familiar with the job, could definitely affect services and restoral times," Fields said.

An AT&T spokesperson said a strike benefits no one.

"We're baffled as to why union leadership would call one 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," AT&T spokesman Jim Kimberly said.

AT&T employees for the branch on Chloe Rd. in Pikeville said they plan to strike for as long as it takes.

"We're just kind of waiting right now to see how it moves forward and go from there," said Fields.

We reached out to AT&T Kentucky for a comment and have not heard back.