Local telephone company union members are trying to dial someone who carries.
Union members employed by AT&T say their informational picket and Take a Stand Rally at the Federal Building on Wednesday marks the start of what is expected to be contentious contract negotiations. Union officials say the company has enjoyed massive profits since deregulation - last year company profits neared 15 percent, near the cap allowed by law - but healthy growth hasn't been translated to the salaries of line employees."This is more a show of support and to let the company know that we are out there and we do want a voice," said Brent Turner, a communications technician who is state vice president for Local 7750 of the Communications Workers of America. "We feel that we have earned a profit, and it's our turn.
"We'd just like to see our fair share," he said. "We think that AT&T has made some pretty good profits the last three years, and we feel we have a lot to do with that."
Ray Child, public relations manager for Utah's AT&T offices, said the company and union have enjoyed a successful relationship in the past, and Wednesday's rally isn't expected to affect that.
"AT&T's relationship with the Utah Communications Workers of America union is very positive, and we have a very strong mutual resolve to complete successful negotiations in 1989," Child said Wednesday morning. "And we feel that this is a very positive opening day of bargaining."
The union's three-year contract will expire July 1. Salaries for union workers haven't kept up with inflation, union officials say, while at the same time upper management has received raises of more than 30 percent.
After a 26-day strike in June 1986, the union agreed to serious concessions, including giving back cost-of-living raises. And 78,000 workers lost their jobs since the phone company was deregulated in January 1984, while at the same time AT&T management ranks swelled by 13,000 positions, Turner said.
Further, the union is concerned that its people will be asked to make further concessions during contract talks, including cuts in health-care benefits. "There is a lot of talk about takebacks, and there is no reason for it," Turner said.
Child declined to respond to specific union claims, saying they will be aired around the bargaining table. "I think this negotiation period in general is a very important one because it is a critical period in the new AT&T. I would just say that we're beginning to make progress and we need to keep going."
The national union represents 180,000 telephone operators, technicians and technical employees; local members number 1,800.