San Francisco is the second most expensive city in America, bested only by New York City, according to Kiplinger. So when I recently went on a frantic hunt looking for a place in the Bay area and saw that average rent is $3,821 a month, my apartment search ended quickly. Most middle-class people can’t afford to move to San Francisco.
AT&T put me in this difficult position of hurriedly looking for housing options in the Bay area. Last week the company cut my job as a premises technician in Hanford and told me my family’s only option was leaving our home in Hanford for the soaring prices and unfamiliar world of San Francisco. The company gave me four days to decide and said my modest middle-class pay wouldn’t be adjusted based on increased living expenses. My wife and I crunched numbers; we researched all types of housing options. It didn’t take long to see there’s no way we can move to the Bay area on my current pay. AT&T gave dozens of other middle-class families in the Central Valley and hundreds across the state the same offer that isn’t an offer at all – it’s a slap in the face.
After five years with AT&T, it felt like the executives had just pulled the rug out from under me. I am working in a position I love, and I cherish my time with customers. Unlike my last job where I constantly had to travel for work, my job with AT&T is local and being able to come home for dinner at night with my wife is sacred. Now the future for my wife and me is unstable and uncertain.
When it became clear that AT&T was slashing my job, I panicked, in part because I had a necessary ankle surgery scheduled. I found out at the beginning of May that by the end of the month I’d be out of a job five days before my surgery. I proceeded with the surgery because I couldn’t put it off. The out-of-pocket healthcare costs for physical therapy coupled with not being able to realistically pursue a new job for another three to four months will be financially devastating for my family.
It adds insult to injury that AT&T's executives received an increase in their pay last year and have been slashing jobs all over the country and right here in California. AT&T’s CEO Randall Stephenson was out in front of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, promising to make investments and create 7,000 new jobs at AT&T. Despite receiving a $21 billion windfall from the tax bill, AT&T has eliminated 23,000 jobs since its passage. It doesn’t add up: the company is doing well and has the resources to invest in its workforce here in the Central Valley. Mr. Stephenson and the top brass are choosing to destroy the lives of hardworking Americans who’ve built their profits.
The corporate greed at the expense of working people is out of control. My union, The Communications Workers of America, has urged the House Ways and Means Committee to call Mr. Stephenson to testify and answer for his broken promises to American workers and taxpayers. Tens of thousands of Americans and Californians like me keep having our lives upended by AT&T. It’s time for Congress to intervene.