ROCHESTER, Minn.- Workforce unions protested outside an AT&T store in Rochester on Saturday to keep it unionized. The retailer's Crossroads Drive SW location is set to close soon and eventually reopen as a non-unionized store.
According to Kieran Knutson, the president of Communications Workers of America Local 7250, half a dozen of its staff will lose their jobs and be replaced with employees who Knutson believes will have substandard wages and benefits.
"I've worked with the workers that have gone through this before. It's very disruptive to their lives, it's very disruptive to their plans, and I know it means going forward there won't be a unionized retailer in the city for young people to apply for," explains Knutson.
Larry Thompson whose a retail sales consultant with the company says he thinks the telecommunications company is focused more on profits and less on employees. Thompson also thinks the non-unionized retailer will impact customer experience.
"They're not trained. There not staffed. Us as corporate-owned employees are heavily trained, heavily staffed. We are trained for any above and beyond situations."
KIMT News 3 has reached out to AT&T. They tell the station "As we have previously announced, we are transforming our business. that includes adjusting our retail presence to reflect our customers' shopping practices. While these plans are not new, they have been accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic."
The company says all frontline union-represented employees will be offered a role either in a nearby retail store or as a work-from-home call center representative. Others will be encouraged to apply for open roles in other parts of the business.