"Put the American back into American Telephone & Telegraph."
That was the message that Mary Lou Schaffer, President of Communication Workers of America (CWA) Local 13550, along with about 100 members and supporters, were saying as they protested outside the AT&T building in downtown Pittsburgh this morning.
The existing labor contract for 40,000 employees nationwide, including 250 at Legacy T Core call centers in Pittsburgh, expires at midnight April 7.
According to Schaffer, the main stumbling block in contract negotiations is AT&T's outsourcing of jobs to places such as Slovakia, Mexico, India, and the Philippines.
"You know, at one time we had over one thousand people in this building, not too long ago — and now we're down to eighty," Schaffer said.
The negotiations have been ongoing since February and, according to the union, little progress has been made. Schaffer says they want to continue to bargain, but it appears the company wants to "squeeze out" more profits.
"For a company such as AT&T, who made over $20 billion in profit over the last 2 years, you would expect them to step up and provide good jobs to change the economic recovery and move the country forward; and part of that would be keeping jobs in America," Schaffer said.
Schaffer said union members across the country have overwhelmingly authorized a strike, but no walkout is planned at this time.
AT&T did not returns requests for comment.