Northeast Ohio AT&T employees walk out, prompt temporary store closures

AT&T store in Independence closed after employees walk out
AT&T store in Independence closed after employees walk out
Independence AT&T Store Closed After Employees Walk Out
Independence AT&T Store Closed After Employees Walk Out

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - AT&T employees in northeast Ohio walked out Friday afternoon, forcing some stores to close.

Employees, who are members of the Communications Workers of America, walked out of the Independence store at exactly 3 p.m. Friday, and the store then closed for the day. The employees formed a picket line outside of the store, holding signs that say things like, "On Strike for Good Jobs."

Hillary Frishkorn, one of the employees who decided to walk out, told Cleveland 19 it's important for her to take a stand on issues like outsourcing of call centers, health care, and pay. Frishkorn said the weekend walkout is a temporary move with a specific purpose.

"Basically we're trying to avoid a full on strike," said Frishkorn. "We want AT&T to understand that we're serious. We want them to come to the table and give us a fair contract."

Frishkorn said that employees are fighting to keep middle class jobs.

"Unions fight for everyone. If you look back in history we fought to have a 40-hour work week. Unions benefit other companies, and other workers as well because we help drive up the standard of employee care and employee treatment we deserve to live a good life with good income and have good jobs just like everyone else, and everyone else's definitely welcome to join us and hopefully they can see that corporate greed doesn't need to take over," said Frishkorn.  "We're at a critical period in our country where we need to look at the huge discrepancy between the corporate interests and their money and what's happening to the middle-class people of America who are losing money, we're losing jobs and this is the time to support and really come out and make a difference."

Cleveland 19 reached out to AT&T, and received a statement from the senior public relations manager, Holly Hollingsworth. The statement said, in part:

"A strike is in no one's best interest, and it's baffling that union leadership would call one when we're offering terms in which our employees in these contracts … will be better off financially."

It went on to say that the company is prepared and will continue to work to serve customers:

"What's most important is we're all family, whether you're a union member or not. Like any family we have our disagreements but we'll sort them out. We've reached 29 fair agreements since 2015 covering over 128,000 of our employees, and we're confident we can do the same here. We're offering generous terms in these negotiations including annual wage and pension increases, as well as 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."

Copyright 2017 WOIO. All rights reserved.