Occupy Atlanta Claims Partial Victory in AT&T Protest
(APN) ATLANTA — Today, Monday, March 26, 2012, Occupy Atlanta, Communication Workers of America (CWA) Local 3204, and Atlanta Jobs with Justice announced a historic victory in preventing over 250 layoffs at AT&T.
The coalition claims that the pressure they put on AT&T resulted in a reduction of layoffs from 740 jobs to 485 jobs, therefore, saving 255 jobs. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson’s 27 million dollar salary was also cut by two million dollars.
AT&T has kept their public door locked since the occupation began on February 13, 2012.
“We are going to give AT&T a break for now and let them open their public doors. If they pull anything in the future, we will be back here if they mess with any of these workers,” Ben Speight, organizing director with Teamsters Local 728, said.
“AT&T has rescinded 255 jobs and that has never occurred in the past. It’s clear that through the collaboration of Occupy Atlanta, CWA, and Jobs with Justice that is why these layoffs were rescinded and that is why they had the lowest surplus announcement on March 15th,” Roger Sikes, with Atlanta Jobs with Justice, said.
As reported earlier by Atlanta Progressive News, Occupy Atlanta has been camped out on the sidewalk at AT&T’s Midtown headquarters, since February 13, when twelve people held a sit-in and were arrested while protesting the announced layoffs of 740 employees in the Southeast US.
The next day, hundreds of community supporters rallied outside the AT&T complex, demanding that AT&T stop the layoffs and those scheduled to occur on March 15, 2012.
“We were prepared to escalate this campaign by setting up camps in Birmingham, Savannah, and Chattanooga. The Occupy movements there were ready to go but because of these wins we are going to hold off on that,” Tim Franzen, with Occupy Atlanta, said.
There was a special recognition for Copper, a homeless man who ran the tent camp twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, during the 42 day occupation, and helped make it a success. “We don’t cry, we don’t lie, we just occupy,” Copper said.
“Power to the people,” Johnny Money, another homeless man, who also helped in Occupy’s successful tent camp, said.
Antonio Parsons, an AT&T worker who was moved from his position in Atlanta and transferred to Augusta said, “The sacrifices these people made and the media spotlight they brought along with the CWA and Teamsters backing Occupy, I’m sure that had an effect on helping to save jobs.”
“This puts all corporations on notice that anyone considering layoffs must consider the ramifications because no longer will it cost you nothing to lay folks off. People will stand up, speak up, and sit-in to make sure they have a job and a healthy democracy,” Ron Allen, with Occupy Atlanta, said. “We attacked the wealth disparity right here at ground zero at AT&T.”
Occupy began to break down the tents and load them onto trucks but, akin to one’s favorite superhero, will reappear again where injustice appears.
Besides the AT&T victory, other Occupy Atlanta successes include saving a 108 year-old church in Atlanta’s Vine City, the Higher Ground Empowerment Center; and the Riverdale home of Bridgett Walker, a veteran from the US Invasion of Iraq, from foreclosure. In both cases, they got the banks to renegotiate the mortgages to much lower rates that were affordable.