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Thirteen Arrested in AT&T Protest held by Occupy Atlanta


(APN) ATLANTA -- Thirteen people were arrested inside the lobby of the AT&T building at 675 West Peachtree Street today, Monday, February 13, 2012.  The group said they would sit in the lobby until AT&T promised to not layoff 740 union workers across the southeastern United States.

They sang several songs, in which they changed the lyrics.  One of these were, "AT&T don't stoop so low and let these workers go.  We all know you made record profits last year.   AT&T please hear our cries, we're here to ask you why, you cut jobs and don't even shed a tear.  Your CEO makes millions of dollars each year while 700 workers are living in fear that they will lose their jobs and not be able to pay their bill.  Oh, help us if you will.  We all know you made record profits last year."

Those arrested included Ron Allen, Tim Franzen, Darlene Jones-Owens, Barbara Joye, Anna Kelly, Will Marshall, Minnie Ruffin, Roger Sikes, Jim Skillman, Ben Speight, and three others.

Activists are fed up with the ongoing economic injustice in the US currently being manifested by AT&T, in their planned layoffs of 740 union workers in the Southeast while making record profits.  

Randall Stephenson, AT&T CEO, made over twenty-seven million dollars in 2011 and AT&T's revenues last year were over 126.7 billion dollars.

Communications Workers of America (CWA) plans to fight back if AT&T goes ahead with the layoffs.

"I'm a small business owner and when American workers lose their jobs, they can't afford to get a haircut.  This hurts my barber shop and other small business owners," Will Marshall told Atlanta Progressive News as his reason for being arrested.

People are losing their jobs, health care, and homes, as the homeless population is increasing each year.  Meanwhile, AT&T is taking advantage of the tough times by eliminating skilled union jobs so they can turn around to hire other workers at low wages with no benefits, just so they can increase their already huge profits on the backs of union workers.

"I am here as an American in support of American jobs,” Jones-Owens from Carrollton, Georgia, told APN, as for why she was willing to get arretsed.  “AT&T should not layoff anybody with their record profits.  Americans need full-time employment, not part-time without benefits."

It is yet another symptom of how the one percent make up the rules for the one percent at the expense of the ninety-nine percent.  It seems some corporate monopolies would like to eliminate the middle class and to lower wages, so the US can compete with slave wages in third world countries in their race to the bottom.  

Low to slave wages, outsourcing jobs to other countries, and no environmental laws are the goals of the greedy, crony capitalist class whose hearts only bleed for the billionaires.

"I believe everybody needs full and fair employment.  Companies like AT&T need to be accountable to our community and their employees," Roger Sikes with Atlanta Jobs with Justice said.

According to the US Census Bureau, Atlanta has the largest wealth gap between rich and poor people, out of any major city in the US.  AT&T will make that gap even larger by laying off 95 workers in Georgia and 70 in Atlanta and adding to Georgia's 9.7 percent unemployment rate.

“There’s plenty of work out here to be done, there is a lot of forced overtime and not enough folks to do the work.  AT&T needs to reduce the money going into the CEO’s and the big manager’s pockets.  That money needs to go to keep people on payroll,” Walter Andrews, President of Communications Workers of America local 3204, said in a press release.

About fifteen Occupy Atlanta tents have been set up on the sidewalk about side the AT&T building and people plan to stay overnight until a larger demonstration happens tomorrow.   While the arrests were happening inside about seventy people gathered outside to demand "No layoffs of American union workers."

A mass mobilization is planned for Tuesday, February 14, Valentine's Day, 11am to 2pm, in front of AT&T at 675 West Peachtree Stree to defend the 740 union jobs.  Some of the organizations participating are Atlanta Jobs with Justice, Communication Workers of America, Occupy Atlanta, Rainbow PUSH, Workers United, Teamsters, National Action Network, and others.




Comments (13)

Said this on 2-13-2012 At 05:08 pm

Any ex-employee of what used to be a job with a union should join us tomorrow. Hopefully the weather will be as beautiful as it was today. Come out. It's only until 2pm on Valentine's Day. What better way to ask the question of Where's the Love?

Said this on 2-13-2012 At 05:54 pm
Said this on 2-13-2012 At 11:03 pm

Nobody can deny that the wireline business is in total freefall.  Any argument that these employees should be exempt from the realities of the telecom business can also be made about the workers that made wooden wheels for covered wagons or delivered blocks of ice to homes for use in the ice box.  The world is a dynamic place.  Static people get left behind. 



Gloria Tatum
Said this on 2-14-2012 At 10:10 am
This is not about AT&T no longer having jobs for people.  It's about AT&T firing skilled union people and turning around and hiring unskilled non-union people for less pay to do the same job.
Said this on 2-15-2012 At 01:05 pm

And you are calling workers "static" why? They were trained for wireline work and they can be trained for wireless work or whatever work. Have a little more respect for human adaptability. Never forget that whoever you are, you are also one of us.

Said this on 2-16-2012 At 01:03 am

I didn't call the workers static. It is precisely the union and these hapless protesters that seek to make the workers static by keeping them in jobs that are obsolete.  AT&T has offered and continues to offer these workers jobs in the newer, expanding technology under a set of guidelines jointly agreed to by the company and the union.  Those that are adaptable will move with the times.  Those that are not will fall back on the ranks of professional protest pimps and their flocks of slogan shouting sheeple to tell every TV camera what victims they are.  I am one of us.  I have been laid off.  It was not pleasant.  I made it my responsibility to become more marketable.  I adapted.

Said this on 2-14-2012 At 08:00 am

As moderator, I have deleted a comment posted by a Mark Campbell, who used this space to call for police brutality against protesters.  This forum cannot be used as a space to call for violence against peaceful US citizens.

ATT Tech
Said this on 2-14-2012 At 05:11 pm

Please know that AT&T can not replace Union jobs with non-union workers while there is still an ongoing contract for those positions. These positions are not getting filled they are all for wireline technicians and the need for those technicians is falling greatly, due to the lack of new customers purchasing POTS service and the rising number of customers going with other VOIP providers.

Said this on 2-14-2012 At 05:23 pm

These protestors should have protested the government's decision to kill the T-mobile merger.  That would have brought 5,000 jobs here from Europe.  And if they are more concerned about the union, T-Mobile has 30,000 non-union jobs that would have become union when the merger went through.  Ah well, keep fighting the stupid fight.

Burroughston Broch
Said this on 2-15-2012 At 10:50 pm

Nobody ever said that Occupy Atlanta folks were intelligent or had foresight. If they were, they would have jobs and better things to do than joust with windmills in AT&T's lobby.

Truth To Power
Said this on 2-18-2012 At 01:14 pm

ATT tech that simply is not true! You need to be honest and or informed. 

The truth is every company that SBC has brought/merged, they have laid off workers. Lucky for TMobile the FCC stepped in. Do your research this is public records. When SBC  brought AT&T they kept the AT&T brand and name. The reduction in head count has been steady to the point of being painful to the day to day business operations. An example of this is the time it takes to restore your service. Previously service was  restored within 24 hours. Because of the reduction in head count and the managerial practice of "auto close", customers are out for days if not weeks. AT&T has surpluses that result in entire groups being eliminated, then they hire contractors to do that job! So know the facts. The fact is AT&T has always been profitable, before during and after they decide to outsource and lay off the same workers that made that possible. Management has gotten away from true customer service while adopting principles of Sigma Six and placing priority on failed time/worker measurement practices designed for manufacturing plants.  (MSOC). Research the history of AT&T/SBC stock, profits and the number of layoffs. Compare that to your phone bills and services over a 10 - 15 year period and you be the judge if  "Corporate Greed" has contributed to the unemployment numbers in this country. Think about a company that requires you as a customer to commit to a contract that is only beneficial to them, with fees and penalties if you break it, but nothing if they fail to provide the promised services. That same company with it's monopolistic views tries to impose the same lopsided contractual maneuvers on it's workers, who are also customers. Also research other countries to compare the speed and cost of broadband services and see where we Americans fit in. As for the drop in wireline, AT&T is motivated and pushing it customers in that direction in order to reduce headcount and increase profits. They are mandating their representatives push VOIP whenever possible, not because they are losing money, but because it is more profitable in that it will allow them to layoff more workers. 

Steve Shangster
Said this on 1-24-2014 At 07:34 am

Darlene Jones Owen is a virulent anti Semite who runs a face book site, dedicated to Incuting people towards hatred of the Jews. This site is run under the guise if Christian peace but is anything but. Many concerned Christians have been successful in having her anti Semitic videos removed and there is now a growing movement to have her facebook site removed as well. 

Susan Williams
Said this on 1-24-2014 At 07:42 am

Thank you for posting about Darlene Jones Owen. As a Jewish person I have been made aware of her site. There certainly needs to be an exposé of her activities as it is kept very quiet in the university in which she works. 

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