AT&T Lays Off Thousands After Nabbing Billions In Tax Breaks And Regulatory Favors
from the ill communication dept
Back in November of 2017 AT&T promised that if it received a tax break from the Trump administration, it would invest an additional $1 billion back into its network and employees. At the time, CEO Randall Stephenson proclaimed that “every billion dollars AT&T invests is 7,000 hard-hat jobs.” Not “entry-level jobs,” AT&T promised, but “7,000 jobs of people putting fiber in ground, hard-hat jobs that make $70,000 to $80,000 per year.”
Yeah, about that.
The Trump tax cut resulted in AT&T getting billions in immediate tax relief, and roughly $3 billion in tax savings annually, in perpetuity. Yet when it came time for AT&T to re-invest this money back into its network and employees, AT&T actually did the opposite and began laying them off in droves. Unions claim AT&T has laid off an estimated 23,000 workers worldwide since the Trump tax plan, with investors and executives unsurprisingly pocketing the savings. This week, the word came down that AT&T would be laying off thousands more as it wraps up fiber deployment:
“Leaked internal documents confirmed most of the 1,800 planned job cuts. One AT&T surplus declaration shows that more than 900 of the surplus jobs come from the company’s Southeast division in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. This document attributes most of the cuts to “economic” reasons and some to “technological/operational efficiency.”
While AT&T had been deploying fiber as per a 2015 DirecTV merger condition (something the Trump FCC tried to credit to killing net neutrality), the company recently finished up those obligations, and now has returned to the default state of most US telcos: skimping on fiber upgrade investment thanks to limited competition. There’s been nary a peep from Trump INC, because fattening investor and executive wallets, unless you’re new here or exceedingly gullible, was the entire point. Objective experts say the cuts uniformly failed to deliver any of the numerous investment and employment promises made by Trump INC.
Of course this is a shtick AT&T has been engaging in for decades now under both political parties. AT&T will promise a universe of jobs and network investment if it gets “X” (X=killing net neutrality, a tax break, eliminating consumer protections, approving a new merger, passing a law AT&T wrote), but then bails on following through. Nobody in the government much cares because AT&T’s among the wealthiest and most politically powerful companies in the world and turning a blind eye is politically helpful. Nobody in the press much cares because covering failed AT&T promises on the tech policy front doesn’t get hits, and most journalists are too young to remember the last forty times we’ve gone through this.
While the press likes to suggest that the Trump administration is “at odds” with AT&T because his DOJ sued to block AT&T’s attempted merger with Time Warner, that had more to do with pleasing Rupert Murdoch and angering CNN than any real disdain for AT&T. AT&T’s largely been a loyal ally to the Trump administration ever since one of its lobbyists paid Michael Cohen $600,000 for additional access to the President, and if you step back and really try to calculate the billions AT&T has gleaned from Trump and Ajit Pai’s apathetic tenures so far, you’ll quickly get a nasty headache.