AT&T workers on strike

A thousand AT&T employees in South Carolina are on strike as of Friday.

A strike of 20,000 telecommunications workers across the Southeast has engulfed 1,000 AT&T employees in South Carolina.

The Communications Workers of America said that its members at AT&T Southeast went on strike at midnight Friday because the company sent representatives to the bargaining table who didn't have the power to negotiate contracts. 

“We entered these negotiations prepared to bargain in good faith with AT&T to address our members’ concerns and to work together to find solutions,” Richard Honeycutt, the union's Southeast district vice president, said in a statement. "Our talks have stalled because it has become clear that AT&T has not sent negotiators who have the power to make decisions so we can move forward toward a new contract."

A union spokeswoman said Monday that roughly 1,000 workers in South Carolina were on strike. The Southeast region also includes North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.

The strike began Thursday in south Florida, where workers alleged AT&T disciplined employees wearing union memorabilia. The union has said it recently filed unfair labor practice charges against AT&T.

When asked if there will be service interruptions for customers, AT&T said that it's prepared for a strike. The workers who have walked off are technicians and customer service representatives for AT&T's "wireline" home and business internet and phone division, not its cellphone division.

AT&T says it disagrees with the union's claims of bad bargaining practices.

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The union warned earlier in the month when its contract with AT&T expired that a strike could be coming. The union is asking for increased wages and improved health care coverage, among other demands. It said in an update Monday that its negotiators met with AT&T on Monday, noting "discussions are intense but there is a possibility that negotiations could move forward." 

The Communications Workers of America represents workers in telecommunication, customer service, airlines and more. The union says the workers on strike are technicians, customer service workers and others who work to support AT&T's telecommunications network. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Reach Mary Katherine Wildeman at 843-937-5594. Follow her on Twitter @mkwildeman.