AT&T and Its Workers Still Negotiating15 Feb, 2017 By: Doug McPherson
DALLAS – At press time, AT&T is reporting that it has not reached a settlement with the Communications Workers of America on the Mobility “Orange” contract and that the company and union have agreed to an extension of the contract with negotiations continuing.
The workers’ contract covering more than 21,000 retail, call center, and technical employees expired Saturday. More than 90 percent of the union’s members voted on Thursday to authorize a strike if the two sides can’t come to terms on a new deal.
In a statement on its website, AT&T says the ongoing negotiations “reflect the spirit of the longstanding relationship between the company and the union. Employees will work under the terms of the extended contract while negotiations continue.”
The Dallas Business Journal reported this week that AT&T executives remain confident the company will reach an agreement with union wireless workers threatening to strike. “We’re continuing to bargain with the union and we’re committed to reaching a fair agreement that will allow us to continue to provide solid union-represented careers with competitive wages and benefits,” AT&T spokesperson Marty Richter said.
The union’s approval doesn’t necessarily make a strike imminent, but it authorizes the CWA’s executive board and president to give final approval and set a date.
“A strike vote is a routine, not unexpected, step in negotiations of this sort and is often a part of the process,” Richter said.
Union representatives say retail staffs are shrinking and more and more call center jobs have been sent offshore.
“These are issues we’ve been raising in a lot of negotiations,” said CWA spokesperson Candice Johnson, pointing toward a skirmish with Verizon last year.
AT&T contends it hired 20,000 people into union jobs in 2016 and has an additional 4,200 union positions waiting to be filled. It is the country’s largest employer of full-time union-represented labor, the company says.
Labor negotiations are nothing new to the Dallas telco, which says it has reached 25 agreements with union groups during the past two years, accounting for about 102,000 employees.