AT&T Mixes Bonuses with Pink Slips Following Tax Overhaul

The ink had barely dried on the compromise bill that would become President Donald Trump’s signature achievement of 2017 before AT&T announced generous bonuses for more than 200,000 of its U.S. employees. Despite acknowledging GOP tax reform as the impetus for the bonuses, the telecom giant had laid off some 1,300 workers just days before Congress settled on the tax deal.

A news release issued by AT&T just after the compromise bill was announced touted the company’s commitment to its employees. The statement read, in part:

“Once tax reform is signed into law, AT&T* plans to invest an additional $1 billion in the United States in 2018 and pay a special $1,000 bonus to more than 200,000 AT&T U.S. employees — all union-represented, non-management and front-line managers. If the President signs the bill before Christmas, employees will receive the bonus over the holidays.”

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson was quoted in the release as saying that GOP tax reform “will drive economic growth and create good-paying jobs.” Stephenson went on to explain that AT&T would use the occasion of tax reform to invest in both its employees and the U.S. economy. The company went on to pay the announced bonuses to hundreds of thousands of employees over the holiday season.

Pink Slips for Others

According to the Chicago Tribune, AT&T’s bonus pay is only half the story. They reported on December 22 that some 600 workers in six Midwestern states were laid off in the days leading up to final passage of the historic tax plan. Those employees worked in various departments including retail sales and technical support. AT&T referred to the layoffs as “workforce adjustments” in response to lower demand for certain services.

AT&T maintains that advances in technology continue to reduce demand for legacy services and, as such, workforce reductions should be expected. The company also insists that affected employees are offered other jobs within the organization when possible.

According to the New York Post, AT&T issued an additional 700 pink slips to DirecTV installation technicians. That move is considered peculiar by some, given the difficulty AT&T experienced in their attempt to purchase Time Warner. The Trump Justice Department actually sued AT&T to prevent the merger. That litigation was apparently not enough to prevent company officials from lavishing praise on President Trump and Congress for their efforts in getting tax reform done.

Some speculate that AT&T’s public position on the tax bill is an attempt to regain lost favor. By praising tax reform, it is assumed that AT&T expects President Trump and his Justice Department to play nicer in the future.