If you’re heading to the Apple event, watching it online, or live in Cupertino, California, you may see a few guests of the event that you didn’t expect — protesters. AT&T workers and other members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) are taking a stance against their employer’s notoriously low wages by protesting at Apple’s new campus, which will be the launch location of the new set of iPhones.
According to the CWA, despite the fact that AT&T makes more than $1 billion per year in profits, the company continues to pay low wages to employees while charging its customers top dollar. On top of that, the company reportedly refuses to negotiate with workers on raising those wages and continues to outsource a large percentage of its workforce.
That last point is a serious issue for AT&T workers and if you see photos of the protests you may see a sign reading, “iMay get outsourced by AT&T.” Despite that, AT&T is pushing for a tax reform that would allow the company to pay lower taxes, arguing that as a result more jobs will be created — all while slashing the number of jobs it offers by tens of thousands in the last few years, according to a report from the Institute for Policy Studies.
Of course, AT&T does not necessarily agree with the CWA. According to the company, it’s committed to working withe union to reach a fair agreement.
“This contract covers good-paying U.S. jobs averaging nearly $70,000 a year in pay and benefits, with some averaging over $115,000,” said the company in its emailed statement. “We’re offering terms in these negotiations, including annual wage and pension increases and comprehensive healthcare benefits, similar to what other employees across the country have ratified in other contracts. We’re confident employees will be better off financially in their new contract.”
AT&T went on to explain that it has more full-time unionized workers than any other company in the U.S., with around 43,000 of its Mobility workforce falling under that category.
So why protest the Apple event? The launch of the new series of iPhones represents the beginning of a huge few months for wireless carriers like AT&T. All of the major carriers in the U.S. stand to gain millions before the end of the holiday period and considering its size, AT&T will be among the top earners from the iPhone.
This is not the first time AT&T workers have taken a stance against the company. Earlier in 2017, more than 35,000 workers walked off the job to commence a three-day strike, forcing the wireless giant to close hundreds of its stores around the country. At the time, workers argued that AT&T had cut thousands of call-center jobs around the country while creating many similar jobs overseas.
It’s likely the battle between union workers and AT&T will be a long one.
Update: AT&T has emailed us with a statement.