News 12 at 11 o'clock / Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Honks and cheers filled part of Washington Road Thursday in hopes of sending one of the nation's largest cellphone providers a clear message.
"We're simply here to bargain a fair wage for workers," Gene Redd said.
The Communication Workers of America's labor contract is up with AT&T on Saturday at midnight. One of the biggest hangups for a new labor agreement is health care.
"The company is really looking to cost shift and put more of the burden on workers, as far as payment is concerned," said Redd, president of the local CWA chapter.
He says the problem with that is the more money they spend on health care, the less they spend contributing to the economy. Now, he and other workers are taking to the streets, adopting Verizon Wireless's slogan "Can you hear [us] now?" in hopes AT&T will get the message.
"We're trying to keep our jobs in this economy," said picketer Barbara Calderon.
If AT&T doesn't return their call, workers could strike. It's something they say they don't have to do.
"We want to be at work every day. We want to work hard. These people behind me, every one of them is smelly right now from the hard work they put in today," Redd said.
Marty Richter for AT&T Corporate Communications released this statement:
"AT&T is one of the largest employers in America, and our goal in these negotiations is to continue to provide and protect high quality, middle-class careers for our employees -- with wages and benefits that are among the best in the country."
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