AT&T DirecTV technicians in Sacramento, California, have gone on strike, protesting what they claim is unlawful termination of a coworker.
The group of more than 120 technicians—represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA)—said they will not return to work until their coworker is rehired.
Anthony Estrada, a father and technician, was according to the CWA unlawfully terminated Monday for losing a piece of equipment, which was later stolen. The union said that “excusable errors like this rarely result in termination.”
CWA is in the process of making the case to get Estrada hired back by AT&T.
“Dedicated technicians keep the whole DirecTV operation running,” said John Miller, president of CWA Local 9421, which is based in Sacramento. “We don’t want to let our customers down, but we can’t watch AT&T corporate bullies put a young father out of a job for no reason.”
Marty Richter, an AT&T spokesman, told FierceTelecom in an e-mail that while it had a localized walk out by some of its technicians in the Sacramento area, the company is "prepared to continue serving customers, and are engaged in discussion with the union to get these employees back to work.”
AT&T said that it has not violated any employment laws when it fired this employee.
“We have an agreed-upon disciplinary process with the CWA, and have confirmed it was followed in this case and discussed with the union prior to this employee’s termination,” Richter said. “The process takes into account an employee’s entire service record, and is not based on a single incident.”
DirecTV technicians provide services, including installation and maintenance, to about 15,000 customers per week in the Sacramento area.
Due to what CWA says are delays in contract negotiations with AT&T, DirecTV workers in California and Nevada do not have a grievance process in place.
AT&T and the 2,000 CWA-represented DirecTV workers are in the midst of negotiating a new labor contract.
Another 17,000 AT&T customer service workers and technicians in California and Nevada are also bargaining with the company for a new contract. These employees have been working without a contract for nearly a year.
Overall, AT&T has continued to make progress with union workers represented by the CWA.
AT&T and the CWA reached a tentative three-year agreement for 2,200 workers covered by the telco’s National Internet Contract.
As of the end of 2016, AT&T said it has reached, and union-represented employees ratified, 15 different labor agreements, collectively covering nearly 61,000 employees. This includes nine agreements covering nearly 7,300 former DirecTV employees.
On Monday, AT&T and the CWA reached a tentative agreement covering covering 500 DirecTV technical service center employees.