Thirteen Arrested in AT&T Protest held by Occupy Atlanta

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(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.

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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.”
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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.

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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.

(END/2012)

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