Striking AT&T workers began picketing outside AT&T stores in Fresno on Friday to protest what they say is unfair bargaining by the company.
The local labor action is part of a broader strike against the company.
The store on Blackstone Avenue just north of Shaw Avenue closed its doors at noon, but soon reopened with a sign on the door that it would be open from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.
About 25 people held signs on the picket line in front of the store, cheering when passing drivers honked in support.
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Customer Taylor Bergstrom of Fresno said he had tried to pay his AT&T bill at the store near Herndon and Blackstone avenues but “the entrance was blocked off, that’s why I came here.” He said he successfully paid the bill.
Picketers set up in front of several stores and AT&T locations in Fresno, including two stores on Blackstone Avenue and one on East Tulare Avenue.
The three-day labor action is part of a 36-state strike and involves wireless and wireline workers in California and Nevada, who have been working without a contract for more than a year.
Delia Molina, secretary-treasurer of the Communication Workers of America Local 9408, said workers at retail stores, tech yards and offices walked off the job.
Wages, health care and job security are among the issues employees are concerned about, she said. “Pretty much everything is on the table right now,” she said.
The Communications Workers of American issued a statement right before the strike began.
“While a three-day strike may inconvenience customers in the short term, AT&T workers are committed to putting an end to unnecessary frustration and poor service because of AT&T’s lack of investment in its core business,” it said.
AT&T spokesman Steve Maviglio said the strike is unnecessary.
“A strike is in no one’s best interest, and it’s baffling as to why union leadership would call one when we’re offering terms in which our employees in these contracts – some of whom average from $115,000 to $148,000 in total compensation – will be better off financially,” a company statement said.
“What’s most important is we’re all family, whether you’re a union member or not. Like any family we have our disagreements, but we’ll sort them out.”
Tim Vang, 20, of Fresno, drove into the parking lot at the Tulare Avenue store and saw picketers.
“I’m just trying to get a (phone) line for myself,” he said, adding that he’s a student at Fresno City College and is currently on his parents’ cell phone plan.
“I’ll go home or get a new location,” he said. “I may try a different company.”