Tuesday, April 10, 2012

AT&T avoids wireline union worker strike, talks set to continue

AT&T (NYSE: T) won't have to deal with a strike by 40,000 of its wireline union workers, whose existing contract ran out at midnight Sunday. Instead, the carrier will resume negotiations with the Communications Workers of America (CWA).
CWA-affiliated workers in the Northeast, West and Midwest last week had authorized their leadership to strike if talks failed to reach an agreement, but now will continue to work under the existing contract while the two sides negotiate.
AT&T's Midwest, East, West and Legacy T contracts all expired on Saturday, April 7. Covering nearly 13,000 employees in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin, the Midwest contract expired at 11:59 p.m. CDT. East and Legacy T, which covers slightly over 3,000 employees in Connecticut and almost 6,000 employees throughout the United States, also expired at 11:59 EDT.
The West contract covers more than 17,000 employees in California and Nevada and expired at 11:59 p.m. PDT.

At issue between the unions and AT&T leadership is that the telco wants union employees to pay more for healthcare premiums and cut other benefits. These are the same issues that prompted Verizon's (NYSE: VZunion workers to strike for two weeks last August.
Although a strike was avoided, the CWA said that the pace of negotiations with AT&T were "slow and frustrating," adding that the two sides remained "far apart."
An AT&T spokesman said the telco was "committed to continuing to work together with the union to bargain a contact."

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