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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Occupy Atlanta claims victory in AT&T standoff

Occupy Atlanta, union members, and labor advocates have camped outside telecom giants Midtown offices for more than 40 days
  • Joeff Davis/CL File
  • Occupy Atlanta, union members, and labor advocates have camped outside telecom giant's Midtown offices for more than 40 days
Occupy Atlanta members will break down their tents outside AT&T's Midtown offices after learning that more than 250 of the telecom giant's workers won't be laid off. And members of the leaderless group say the rallies, sit-ins, and more than 40 nights they and other organizations spent along West Peachtree Street helped prevent the job losses.

Members of the coalition, which includes the Communication Workers of America Local 3204 and Atlanta Jobs with Justice, plan to offer more details at a press conference tomorrow. (We've asked AT&T for comment and will update if we hear word. ) From a statement Occupy Atlanta released Sunday night:

The groups will announce a historic victory in preventing over 250 layoffs at AT&T, a result of community and worker pressure. AT&T workers whose jobs were saved by the campaign as well as key organizers will speak out. Following the press conference, the coalition of groups will close the 42 day long tent occupation.

AT&T workers had previously received a letter from the company in December 2011 informing them that there would be 740 layoffs in the southeast. AT&T’s announced slashing of good, middle class jobs followed an email graciously thanking its employees for creating record profits for the telecommunications giant while CEO Randall Stevenson was paid out a record $27 million.

On February 13th, activists staged a sit-in at AT&T’s Atlanta corporate offices in protest to the announced layoffs. The next day, hundreds of community supporters rallied outside the complex and launched over a month long occupation demanding that AT&T stop the layoffs and those scheduled to occur on March 15th.

As a result of the coalition’s work, AT&T reduced its announced layoffs by 255 from the original announced 740, and the March 15th layoff numbers were lower than any period in recent history, stopping potentially hundreds more that had been scheduled to occur. During the occupation, the company also cut its CEO Randall Stephenson’s pay by $2 million.

This victory at AT&T may be just the start. The organizers hope that the fight back will inspire workers around the country to take direct action against corporate greed and such examples of the continued economic injustice against 99%. The bold series of actions against AT&T’s layoffs and greed, put the 1% on notice- that the days when grossly profitable corporations can carelessly layoff workers and undermine the economic security of hundreds of working families, are over.

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