February 14, 2012

Occupy Atlanta Asks AT&T: Where's The Love

Occupy Atlanta's Welcome Committee had encouraged me to visit them during the AT&T demonstrations, planned for Valentine's Day. The company plans to layoff 740 workers and Occupy Atlanta has joined with Communications Workers Of America (CWA) and Jobs With Justice to protest. My gut reaction is that if a company determines they need to layoff workers, that should be their decision to make. But Occupy Atlanta takes issue with this. They think that AT&T is exporting the area's best-paying, skilled jobs abroad for the short-term strategy of slashing its labor costs and increasing management compensation. In particular,

  • AT&T has been outsourcing jobs for years, but refuses to release the numbers publicly
  • AT&T has laid off workers and then rehired them at less pay, with no security or benefits
  • In 2011, AT&T earned a whopping $3.9 billion on $126.7 billion in revenue
  • In 2011, the CEO of AT&T made over $27 million
They do have a point. In fact, this is very representative of many large corporations that are outsourcing good jobs faster than we can count them.

In preparation for the big event, there was a sign-making party at the American Friends Service Committee. I spoke with Darlene in a very noisy room. She has formed the group, Everyday People Occupy Atlanta, to provide support services and donations as needed for Occupy Atlanta events. Her determination to help is apparent, when she shares that it is a 100 mile round trip every time she drives in to Atlanta.

The AT&T events went off with good news coverage. Civil disobedience inside the AT&T building resulted in twelve arrests, yesterday. They created some visual drama. Occupy Atlanta has several occupations going simultaneously. In addition to the original site downtown, there are smaller full-time, foreclosure-prevention occupations. And as of today, there is a new full-time occupation outside AT&T. And it's not just members of Occupy Atlanta, but rank-and-file union members! A CWA member stated "I've got a tent and I'm going to camp here until these layoffs are rescinded."

Sources: Occupy Atlanta: WHY OCCUPY AT&T? Jobs, Outsourcing, and Customer Service, Jobs With Justice: AT&T Protests Escalate to Mass Mobilization and Sustained Occupation, CBS: Union members, Occupy Atlanta protesters rally against AT&T layoffs


  1. Thank you, Andrea, for visiting Atlanta and covering our events and actions!

  2. Here's a link to a video that shows the encampment outside of AT&T -

  3. Why do you occupy AT&T? In the words of those occupying,