CWA refuses AT&T Southwest's latest 4-year contract offer

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AT&T (NYSE: T) Southwest on Wednesday suffered another setback on the wireline union negotiation front as the Communications Workers of America (CWA) District 6 failed to ratify a new four-year labor contract.

Earlier this month, the telco reached a tentative agreement with CWA District 6

The current wireline contract will expire on April 6. The carrier's proposed union contract would have covered about 20,000 employees in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas.

In a prepared statement, AT&T said it "was unfortunate that the very fair and reasonable contract was not ratified," and added that it will keep trying to reach an agreement.

During the past year, the carrier made continued progress with its union workers, ratifying new contracts with AT&T Midwest, AT&T Legacy and AT&T Southeast in August and December, respectively. The Midwest and Southeast contracts collectively cover about 40,000 AT&T wireline workers.

Negotiations between telcos and wireline union workers have been fairly contentious of late. All of the large and even smaller carriers have asked for concessions on pensions, work rules, and health care contributions to better manage costs at a time when their traditional wireline voice service revenues are in decline.

Throughout 2012, AT&T, Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and Hawaiian Telcom (Nasdaq: HCOM) all reported progress in developing new contracts with their union workers.

Verizon in September reached tentative three-year contract agreements with the IBEW and the CWA, while Hawaiian Telcom reached a major accord with its union employees, who voted to ratify a five-year collective bargaining agreement.

Meanwhile, CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL) is still negotiating contracts with its union workers in the former Qwest territories.

For more:
- see the release

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AT&T, CWA ratify agreements for Midwest wireline employees