AT&T Inc. (T) has until midnight on Thursday to sign a new contract with 22,000 CWA members in the Southeast. Over the weekend AT&T’s contract with its wireline employees in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee expired. Unable to come to an agreement on a new contract, the company and the union agreed to extend their current contract until Thursday at 11:59 pm.
“We are not proposing to reduce the wages of any employee in these contracts, or to take away their health care benefits,” says AT&T spokesperson Marty Richter. However, the company’s wireline employees are not likely to fare as well in contract negotiations as those working in AT&T’s wireless division. In April, 8,800 CWA workers employed by AT&T Mobility in the Southwest ratified a contract that will add 2,000 jobs over four years, and increase pay by at least 2%.
While wireline growth has slowed in recent years, AT&T is hoping to reverse that trend with its U-verse service. The company is working hard to extend fiber to more neighborhoods so that it can offer Internet, digital TV and voice service in one package. In its most recent quarterly earnings report AT&T said that wireline revenue was down 0.8% from the year-ago quarter, but wireline revenue from the residential customer segment was up 1.7%. Now the company must forecast how much wireline growth it can expect in the years ahead as it tries to negotiate with its tens of thousands of wireline employees.
Follow me on Twitter.