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AT&T Call Center Workers in Texas Want More Pay

January 31, 2008

Call center workers in Austin, Texas and surrounding areas think their employer—AT&T—can afford to pay them more, and they’re picketing to get raises. The employees, members of the Communications Workers of America union, are also rallying for better benefits.

The start of contract negotiations comes on the heels of AT&T’s posted profits of $3 billion for the most recent quarter, Midland Reporter-Telegram reported. Workers at the Austin call center believe AT&T’s high profits means it can afford to pay employees more.
Call center workers in Austin say they currently earn less than $13.50 per hour, Midland Reporter-Telegram said, and want that number raised to the industry standard of roughly $15 per hour.
An AT&T spokesperson responded to that claim in the report by saying that salaries for call center workers vary depending on position, ranging from $25,000 per year (customer care reps) to $60,000 (technicians). Assuming a 40-hour, full-time workweek, that would translate to $12 per hour and $29.00 per hour, respectively.
AT&T’s spokesperson also noted that this particular round of negotiations does not include discussion about benefits, which will be addressed later. For the time being, the agenda is focused on wage, pension and work rules for AT&T’s southwestern region (Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas).
Call center employees at AT&T, the report said, are complaining not only that the company should pay higher wages, but that it has made unnecessary budget cuts like doing away with free coffee for workers.
Compared with call center workers at other firms, the AT&T spokesperson said, those now negotiating are in an unusual position as the only wireless workforce in the U.S. represented by a union. In Texas, a “right to work” state, employees need not belong to a union.
Midland Reporter-Telegram said about 70 percent of workers at the Austin facility belong to the union.

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Mae Kowalke is an associate editor for ContactCenterSolutions, covering VoIP, CRM, call center and wireless technologies. To read more of Mae’s articles, please visit her columnist page. She also blogs for ContactCenterSolutions here.