AT&T’s union recently came to an agreement with the company to extend the company’s remote work policy until next year. However, some workers are saying that they are still being forced to return.
The deal with Communications Workers of America (CWA) stated that workers would be able to work remotely during crises until March of 2023. However, workers are stating that not only are some still being asked to come into the office amidst Covid-19 outbreaks, some already have.
“The extension agreement allows us to go back to working from home in a crisis—but we know of call centers and payroll departments that have had outbreaks, and they are not going back to working from home there,” said Kieran Knutson, an AT&T call center worker and leader of the CWA’s Minneapolis chapter.
According to an AT&T spokesperson, the company will “adhere to guidance from the medical community,” but that its “largely vaccinated workforce” makes it safe to return to the office.
But this isn’t flying for workers. Some workers who shifted to remote arrangements in the last few years reported higher productivity and attendance levels. According to Knutson, the desire to work remotely is much stronger than the company realizes.
Last April, Knutson created a petition called “Make ‘Work From Home’ a Permanent Option for AT&T Employees,” which has since gathered almost 6,200 signatures.
There are a multitude of reasons why AT&T workers are hesitant about returning to the office. For some, health and safety are a concern. For others, long commutes hinder their work performance.
“If my quality of life deteriorates because of this, so will my work,” said Suzette Belhumeur, an engineering administrator who has a three-hour round-trip commute. “How can I provide quality service if I’m stressed and unhappy?”