Wheeling, Weirton AT&T Workers Could Strike

WHEELING — Employees at AT&T cellphone stores could walk off the job today if they don’t come to a labor agreement with the company by 3 p.m.

“We are ready to go, but we are hoping that AT&T comes to the table, and that we be on the right track toward reaching an agreement,” said Candace Johnson, communications director for the the Communications Workers of America.

Local AT&T retail locations could be affected, including those at The Highlands, the Ohio Valley Mall, the Fort Steuben Mall and locations in the Elm Grove area of Wheeling and Weirton.

Johnson believed the strike would not involve those employed at the AT&T call center at The Highlands, and that only AT&T Mobility workers — the cellphone sales clerks at AT&T stores — would be affected.

CWA Local 2006 represents local communications workers with AT&T.

Representatives were not in their Wheeling office Thursday, and did not return messages seeking comment.

The AT&T Mobility employees are seeking higher wages, no increases their contributions to health insurance premiums, and better job security, according to published reports.

During an event at the AT&T call center at The Highlands in April, when Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., announced legislation aimed at protecting communications workers’ jobs from outsourcing, CWA Local 2006 President Ann Vogler said recent layoffs, combined with a hiring freeze, were on employees’ minds.

“We’ve lost about 30 people in the last six months,” Vogler said during the April 19 event. “The company currently has no plans to hire, which is why CWA is 100-percent supportive of this bill that Congressman McKinley is talking about. It’s going to keep jobs in America, and hopefully bring more to our local area.”

Information provided by the CWA states the union represents more than 150,000 workers at AT&T, including 45,000 at AT&T Mobility nationwide; 9,000 at DirecTV and 2,000 at AT&T Internet.