DSAers Support AT&T Mobility

By Meghan Brophy

ATTStrike440.jpg 

On Friday May 19, more than 40,000 AT&T Mobility workers in 36 states kicked off a three-day strike, and on each day of that strike, more than 200 DSAers were at 60 picket lines throughout the country.

This was not only one of the largest strikes of retail workers in U.S. history but the first strike at AT&T Mobility and the first large-scale strike in the wireless industry. Whether they work in retail, call centers, or as technicians, AT&T Mobility workers are represented by the Communication Workers of America (CWA).

For many DSA members, this was their first picket line. By walking the picket line and distributing flyers, our members were able to talk to customers about the issues raised by AT&T Mobility workers and encourage them not to shop in the stores.

The three-day strike took place during contract negotiations, which continue at this writing in late June. AT&T Mobility workers face rising healthcare costs and stagnant wages even as AT&T’s profits have risen. It is the tenth-largest company in the United States. Workers see the future in AT&T’s outsourcing of many call center jobs.

In New York City, DSA members joined workers at eight AT&T Mobility stores to picket throughout the weekend. Zack Kelaty, a student at Hunter College and organizer with NYC Young Democratic Socialists, joined workers as they walked off the job Friday afternoon in Manhattan.

“Being able to go out on the picket line in solidarity with AT&T workers is exactly why I joined DSA,” he said. “That kind of direct action where we can show up and take a meaningful stand is so important. Being a socialist is not just about sitting in smoky bars arguing over Marx and Gramsci. We need real change, and that means real action.”

In Manchester, New Hampshire, DSA members stood with striking workers at their local store. “We’re not even in a union ourselves, but we all know the importance of literally standing with our fellow workers against capital,” said Paul Goodspeed, New Hampshire DSA. “Holding picket signs and standing with the CWA local was a simple, yet powerful, form of expressing solidarity.”

On the West Coast, the AT&T strikers served as inspiration for DSAers thinking about their own workplaces. “It felt really empowering for us in the East Bay DSA to be on the picket lines, both for those of us who are union members and for those who had little familiarity with strikes or unions,” said Robbie Nelson, East Bay DSA, “Going forward, I would like to see our chapter (and others across the country) develop rapid-response networks for strike support, in addition to supporting DSA members in unions and encouraging other members to organize their own workplaces.”

At several stores in different locations, striking workers pointed out to DSA allies the confusion of managers who were trying (and often failing) to figure out some of the sales software the workers use every day. By going on strike, even for three days, AT&T Mobility workers demonstrated how they, not the CEO and other top executives, make the stores run.

Since 1947, the use of strikes by labor has declined, as unions have had to become ever more creative in their opposition to exploitation. “No one thinks that a three-day strike will bring a company that makes over a billion dollars in profit a month to its knees,” said Zelig Stern, an organizer for CWA District 1, speaking as co-chair of NYC DSA. “Nevertheless, a clear message was sent: Mobility workers are ready to fight. They have the power to stop the flow of profit. AT&T management will have to listen to them. Although strikes may just deal with a specific employer, they are a glimpse of the kind of struggle we need on a larger scale to topple this system. It’s our job as socialists to help win each of those battles so that our class can win the war.” 

Brophy.jpg Meghan Brophy is a member of New York City DSA and Student-Worker Solidarity (USAS Local 12) at Barnard College.

This article originally appeared in the Labor Day 2017 issue of Democratic Left magazine.

Individually signed posts do not necessarily reflect the views of DSA as an organization or its leadership. Democratic Left blog post submission guidelines can be found here.

New Member Orientation Call

February 25, 2018

You've joined DSA - Great. Now register for this New Member Orientation call and find out more about our politics and our vision.  And, most importantly, how you can become involved. 

Sunday February 25th

9 PM ET; 8 PM CT; 7 PM MT; 6 PM PT.

Click here to RSVP

Webinar on Compliance and Endorsement Process

February 28, 2018

Click here to RSVP

The National Electoral Committee is sponsoring the first of a series of webinars on electoral organizing. This session will focus on compliance issues and chapter endorsement processes.

This call in on Feb 28th at 8pm ET/7pm CT/6pm MT/5pm PT

Click here to RSVP

Talking About Socialism Webinar

March 06, 2018

Click here to RSVP.

Join Steve Max, a founder of the legendary community organizing school, the Midwest Academy, to practice talking about socialism in plain language. Create your own short rap. Use your personal experience and story to explain democratic socialism. Prepare for those conversations about socialism that happen when you table or canvass. This workshop is for those who have already had an introduction to democratic socialism, whether from DSA's webinar or from other sources. Questions? Contact Theresa Alt <talt@igc.org607-280-7649.

This training is at 8:00pm Eastern, 7:00pm Central, 6:00pm Mountain, 5:00pm Pacific, 4:00pm Alaska, and 3:00pm Hawaii Time.

Click here to RSVP.

Introduction to Democratic Socialism

March 14, 2018

Click here to RSVP

Join Bill Barclay, Chicago DSA, and Peg Strobel, Chicago DSA and national Socialist Feminist Working Group co-chair, on this webinar for an overview of what we in Democratic Socialists of America mean when we talk about "socialism," "capitalism" and the goals of the socialist movement. 1.5 hours. 9 pm PM ET; 8 pm CT; 7 pm MT; 6 pm PT.

This webinar is free for any DSA member in good standing. You need a computer with good internet access to view the PowerPoint slides, but you may participate by audio only.

Click here to RSVP