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Coronavirus crisis shows pathway to longterm shared economic progress

Crises always seem to bring out the best in Americans. Six weeks ago, AT&T and the Communications Workers of America were in a tense struggle over the legendary company’s future.  AT&T’s leadership, under pressure from activist investor Paul Singer to post short-term share price gains, was deferring needed investment in favor of a stock-buyback strategy. AT&T had cut almost 40,000 jobs over the last two years. The union was fighting for its members’ jobs, families, and future.

Then, last week, AT&T changed direction. After negotiations with CWA and in recognition of the extraordinary efforts of its workers to keep the company running and its customers connected in the face of a global pandemic, AT&T announced a 20% bonus for its front line union employees, whether they are working from home or at their regular work sites.

But AT&T and CWA looked beyond the money to make sound decisions about the present and future.  The company canceled $4 billion worth of stock buybacks and worked with the union to enhance safety procedures and strengthen sick and family leave protection for all CWA-represented AT&T workers. With their close collaboration, focus on the long term, and commitment to problem-solving, AT&T and CWA showed us the right way forward through the crisis and beyond.

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