Aug. 24 (UPI) -- More than 20,000 AT&T employees in the Southeast went on strike overnight, accusing the Dallas-based company of unfair labor practices.
Members of the Communications Workers of America union walked off the job at midnight Friday amid contract negotiations. Their previous contract expired Aug. 3.
"We entered these negotiations prepared to bargain in good faith with AT&T to address our members' concerns and to work together to find solutions," said CWA District 3 Vice President Richard Honeycutt. "Our talks have stalled because it has become clear that AT&T has not sent negotiators who have the power to make decisions so we can move forward toward a new contract."
Among those who went on strike are technicians and customer service representatives in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.
AT&T officials said the strike was unexpected.
"We're baffled as to why union leadership would call one when we're offering terms that would help our employees -- some of whom average from $121,000 to $134,000 in total compensation -- be even better off," AT&T spokesman Jim Kimberly said in a statement to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.