Telecoms Take Hard Line on Union Contract Talks

By Seth Sandronsky

Communications Workers of America

Communications Workers of America (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Forty three thousand AT&T wireline employees, members of  Communications Workers of America, could be striking this summer if AT&T holds to its position that certain workers must take pay cuts and decreased health and retirement benefits.

The workers’ four CWA-AT&T contracts in the East, Midwest and West expired on April 7. Bargaining continues.

The economic gap is wide and speaks to the gulf between the 99% and top 1%. AT&T seeks changes to wages, costs for health care and pensions and workplace rules, according to Sara Steffens, a CWA staffer with District 9. Leaving one to conclude that lower-paid workers will likely bear the brunt of cuts, AT&T spokesperson Marty Richter said, “We’re committed to working together with the union to bargain a contract that will allow us to continue to provide and protect high quality middle-class careers for our employees.”

The company is not proposing to cut the wages of call center representatives or network technicians, according to Richter. While declining to state the specifics of AT&T’s wage proposals, it appears that the company is seeking pay cuts for other CWA workers under new, lower-cost contracts. AT&T also seeks to change the benefits of employees covered under current CWA contracts. One benefit of no small matter is health care insurance. According to Richter, AT&T employees under CWA contracts have health-care costs “in the lowest one percent of surveyed companies.” Continue reading