A brief contract extension agreed upon over the weekend between AT&T and union workers in the Southeast appeared to bear fruit, while the same cannot be said for workers in other regions.
AT&T announced today that it had reached a “handshake” agreement with the Communications Workers of America regarding a three-year agreement covering 22,000 wireline employees in the Southeast. The agreement, which still needs to be finalized, includes wage increases in each year and modest pension increases.
While the telecom giant appeared to make headway in one region, it acknowledged that the CWA had called for a strike of approximately 20,000 members across the West and East regions. Those contracts had expired on April 7.
AT&T recently finalized contract extensions with CWA and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers members it the Midwest.
The CWA noted that it was currently in ongoing negotiations regarding a new contract with Verizon Communications.
Telecom operators have been trying to reduce expenses on their wireline operations over the past several years as revenues from those segments have fallen due to consumers moving their usage to wireless.
“We really needed the business to address this cost structure in relation to the benefits, particularly healthcare contributions and pensions, and we need increased flexibility around our work rules,” noted Verizon CFO Fran Shammo, during the company’s recent second quarter conference call. “So we aren’t asking for things that have not already been given to other companies, these are not new issues for the union, a many of our peer companies are already there. So we are standing strong on our position of cost restructure in this business, so the negotiations are continuing albeit slow and the process will take as long as it takes for us. So at this point, that’s what I’ll report on the union negotiation.”
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