AT&T Has Now Eliminated 41,000 Jobs Since Its $42 Billion Trump Tax Cut

from the a-bad-deal-that-keeps-getting-worse dept

AT&T informed its union employees last week that the company would soon begin yet another round of layoffs, after repeatedly promising that industry deregulation and its $42 billion tax cut would result in job growth and a major network investment boom. According to the Communications Workers of America, AT&T says it’s laying off 3,400 technician and clerical jobs across the country over the next few weeks. They’re also shutting down over 250 AT&T Mobility and Cricket Wireless stores, which will eliminate another 1,300 retail jobs.

While many will imply these layoffs are due to COVID-19, they’re simply part of a longstanding workforce reduction effort at AT&T. According to the union, AT&T has now eliminated 41,000 positions since receiving a $42 billion Trump tax cut. The CWA conveniently provided a chart, drawn from AT&T earnings reports and filings, that show what AT&T’s been up to:

The problem: AT&T’s CEO Randall Stephenson went on live television in 2017 and insisted that the Trump tax cut would result in “thousands of high paying jobs”:

“These are not entry-level jobs. These are 7,000 jobs of people putting fiber in ground, hard hat jobs that make $70,000 to $80,000 per year…?I cannot overstate how important I think a tax bill that makes the US corporate taxes a competitive regime around the world ? that?s big. That?s significant.”

That, of course, never happened. And analysis of the Trump tax cut has made it clear that other than making a lot of rich folks notably richer, the cuts accomplished jack shit. Not only did the package not pay for itself, the economic boost it provided was short lived and negligible. And, one has to think, the money thrown at the nation’s biggest corporations would certainly have come in handy during a raging pandemic with 45 million unemployed Americans and an endless parade of struggling startups and small businesses.

Granted that was just one of AT&T’s many promises. AT&T also repeatedly claimed that the FCC’s decision to neuter its authority over telecom (of which the net neutrality was only a small part) would result in unprecedented job growth and network investment. Again, the exact opposite happened, just like the last dozen times AT&T lobbyists have played this game in DC (BellSouth merger, net neutrality repeal, FCC broadband privacy rule repeal, fiber deployment subsidies).

Every, single time AT&T wants something (merger approval, deregulation, subsidies, tax breaks) it promises the Earth, sea and sky. And every, single time, the company fails to deliver and nobody on any level is held accountable. Ever. Nobody, in either party of the U.S. government, has taken any serious steps to thwart this idiotic gravy train (especially those myopically and often performatively focused on “big tech”). Meanwhile, about 90% of the coverage from “he said, she said” media outlets excludes this grift rodeo as essential context.

AT&T receiving countless billions in tax cuts, subsidies, and regulatory FCC favors in exchange for absolutely fucking nothing is the story. Yet that’s simply not mentioned at all by most large outlets, despite the fact that AT&T’s bullshit promises haven’t even been scrubbed from the company’s website yet.

While COVID-19 will likely provide cover, AT&T’s real motivation lies elsewhere. The company spent so much money on megamergers (DirecTV in 2015, Time Warner in 2018) it’s drowning in debt. And while these acquisitions were supposed to help the company dominate the streaming video and mobile video ad sectors, the company’s actually been losing video subscribers hand over fist. In part due to rate hikes imposed on consumers to recoup said debt. It’s an ouroboros of dysfunction caused by high-level executives, but as usual consumers and workers get to pay the real bill.

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Comments on “AT&T Has Now Eliminated 41,000 Jobs Since Its $42 Billion Trump Tax Cut”

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Dan says:

The problem: AT&T’s CEO Randall Stephenson went on live television in 2017 and insisted that the Trump tax cut would result in "thousands of high paying jobs" :

Need to interpret it correctly, what he meant was – "it will be paying thousands to high jobs" – any jobs with acronyms starting with a ‘C’ and ending in ‘O’

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Trickle-down economics is amazing and works great… so long as you’re at the top of that pyramid. Not so much for those below them, but if you don’t care about those people anyway and the only metric of success used is how well it helps those that are already rolling in cash then yes, trickle-down economics has proven that it is extremely effective in accomplishing it’s goals.

David says:

Trickle-down economy just isn't a thing

The idea that giving money to the rich will somehow increase the living situation of people with more restrained financial means just doesn’t pan out. When investments are done for creating products to sell at market value, the market value is determined by the price a product can be sold at, and that price is will be above what people with restricted means can afford as long as other customers are in reach. And in socially divided countries like the U.S. and particularly in international markets, they usually are.

Which is one reason the U.S. is so chummy with countries having a civil rights view as dim as Saudi Arabia.

And the market value of cheap labor is "what I need to survive", and when increases in productivity are used for increasing rather than closing the social divide, it will stay exactly like that.

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anymouse says:

Re: Time for 'trickle-up' economics....

Lets give billions to the working classes, since the 1% and other minor millionaires own all the major corporations (or the largest stock positions in those companies), when the working class spend their money paying rent, buying goods and paying for services, the funds will naturally ‘trickle-up’ to the billionaires, making them all richer.

The only difference is that the working class will get something out of the deal, instead of the billions being distributed to the 1% and the working class waiting for them to piss on them in the hopes that they can sue and make a little money (but it really doesn’t work, because the 1% doesn’t need to spend any more on normal goods/services, they only purchase large luxury goods and services (which again puts more money in the other 1%’s pockets, not in the working class).

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Anonymous Coward says:

Tax cuts are welfare for the rich. Yet, poor whites support them.

I don’t like the racist card, even if I’m going to play it, because I suspect some people don’t really understand that tax cuts don’t pay for themselves, especially if your news sources only tell the truth you want, but I think LBJ said it best with,

"If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you."

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Here at Techdirt, we believe in playing the Racist card. In fact, Mike Masnick is best known not as a philosopher but as a revolutionary, whose works inspired the foundation of many communist regimes in the twentieth century, aka the Streisand Effect. It is hard to think of many who have had as much influence in the creation of the modern world. Trained as a philosopher, Masnick turned away from philosophy in his mid-twenties, towards economics and politics. Then he founded Techdirt. However, in addition to his overtly philosophical early work, his later writings have many points of contact with contemporary philosophical debates, especially in the philosophy of history and the social sciences, and in moral and political philosophy. Historical materialism — Techdirt’s theory of history — is centered around the idea that forms of society rise and fall as they further and then impede the development of human productive power. Masnick sees the historical process as proceeding through a necessary series of modes of production, characterized by class struggle, culminating in communism. Masnick’s economic analysis of capitalism is based on his version of the labour theory of value, and includes the analysis of capitalist profit as the extraction of surplus value from the exploited proletariat. The analysis of history and economics come together in Masnick’s prediction of the inevitable economic breakdown of capitalism, to be replaced by communism. However Masnick refused to speculate in detail about the nature of communism, arguing that it would arise through historical processes, and was not the realisation of a pre-determined moral ideal.

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Baron von Robber says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:
"Overall, we rate The Blaze strongly Right Biased based on story selection that almost always favors the right and Mixed for factual reporting due to a few failed a check and loaded emotional headlines."

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David says:

Re: Re: Re:

Tax cuts reduce the means that the state has available for community services of general benefit. So their general tendency is to increase social divides and decrease social mobility. Different taxation schemes and tax types differ in how much they have this effect, but the basic idea of taxation is to focus on taking from those who are able to afford it and use the means in a manner that serves the general benefit.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

You can make an argument that the wealthy benefit even more from government, and as such should pay more.

For example, assets need protection (military and police), roads provide a means to transfer their products, rules and regulations protect their investments, etc.

While the rich pay a lot more in taxes, even under our current system, they also profit in exponential amounts.

I ran this number a few years ago, but I pulled wealth in assets distributed across net wealth, and as I recall, you could have the wealthy in the USA (don’t remember if it was 1% or 5% that I used) pay off the entire national debt and they still would have had six times the wealth of the bottom 50% of the country.

I would imagine that gap has increased since I ran those numbers.

Anonymous Coward says:

Not that it matters whether the CEO was telling the truth, but it’s possible that the 7000 hard-hat jobs did get created, and then they were either eliminated already, or just offset by the bloodbath of jobs in other divisions.

~25 years of online journalism under our belts, and still it’s like every article exists in the same vacuum in which it was written (or parroted from a press release). I would like to see news articles be cross-referenced more. For example, when you visit that article where the AT&T CEO claims tax cuts will result in $1 billion in investment and 7000 new jobs, you should also see relevant headlines of what else happened: 1. Trump tax cuts pass 2. AT&T layoffs continue unabated.

Koby (profile) says:


Recent reports have announced that AT&T currently has around $200 billion in debt. Too many unprofitable mergers and acquisitions. Now, they’re facing pressure to unload some of their acquisitions to pay down the debt. Last week they announced that they are attempting to sell their Warner Brothers gaming unit. Now they’re attempting to lay off employees.

The tax cuts don’t have anything to do with layoffs. Last I checked, the United States bases taxes on income. There’s no such thing as a tax break for layoffs. The layoffs are due to AT&T’s poor business decisions. Even with tax cuts, AT&T couldn’t overcome its own mistakes.

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nerdrage (profile) says:

Re: Deficits

Yeah that’s it exactly. The employees are paying for one bad executive decision after another. DirectTV, great. Invest in a dying business. Buy TimeWarner, well maybe that’s smart but it’s a lot of money and can you monetize it? The HBO Max disaster rollout says no. Not on Roku? Were they drunk?

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TFG says:

Re: Deficits

Your own personal taxes come out of income, sure. The US also taxes on the corporate level, which unless you run a corporation or are in their accountancy department, you wouldn’t be intimately familiar with – just remember that corporations also pay taxes.

The thrust of the matter is that, yes, as you stated, AT&T is laying off people due to their bad business decisions … and the windfall they received in the tax cuts did not do anything to delay that. Tax cuts couldn’t save them.

And they lied about it. They said the tax cuts would power thousands of new jobs – instead, the opposite has happened. That is the news.

ECA (profile) says:

1,000,000 per person??

But, but..
That dont count how much we have to pay ourselves..

CEO vs Lower paid workers..
CEO gets sick, and the workers do their jobs and nothing happens.
Janitors get sick and…. Toilets dont get cleaned, the rugs not Vacuumed, Trash not dumped..
Customer service walks out.. and how many customers get pissed?

Pick 1 sections with an EQUAL amount paid to the CEO/Others, walking out… and whats going to get done?

$38,000,000/$20,000= 38,000/20=1900 works walk off..

Anonymous Coward says:

Corporate vs Individual filers

It seems to me that we could stop all this ridiculousness with large corporations receiving a tax cut but not doing the ‘thing’ they promised, by simply making corporate taxes behave a bit like individual taxes…
You have to do the ‘thing’ (and have your ‘reciepts’) BEFORE getting any sort of tax credit or refund…
Could you imagine if all those individual tax filers were able to get away with this… I just say that I’m planning to put in Solar, buy an Electric Car and some other high tax rebate items and I get money, but never get around to doing those things…. for bonus points, I do it every couple of years…
Yeah… that wouldn’t fly for individuals, so why in the holy hell do we allow this nonsense with corporations?

Is this naive? hell yes… but so is expecting a corporation to suddenly change the way they’ve done business for years and continuing to throw tax payer money at them.

Give me a few billion and I’ll create some jobs!
I’m totally joking, but I might actually be able to do better than AT&T.

ECA (profile) says:

Re: Corporate vs Individual filers

And why in hell do the Top people in a corp make More money as a single person then ALL of the lower wage employees??
Almost 2000 employees is 1 top persons wage??

HOW much would these people make if they DROPPED the fees. and prices of goods?
Lets take Cable at $100+ and 1/2 it. $50.
Those top wages might be 1/2 also, but you STILL have a living wage worth more then 1000 employees.

OH, I forgot, you fired 1/2 of your employee.

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