When AT&T and the CWA agreed to a four-year contract for the unionized employees in the Mobility Division, hopes were high that a deal for the wireline workers would get completed in a fair and timely manner, too. But besides CWA District 4, which has reached a tentative deal with AT&T, the wireline unit unions have yet to reach an agreement on a new contract, more than three months after the contracts expired Saturday, April 4. There have been frequent "Bargaining updates" from the individual CWA union districts, but there has not been any progress announced on bridging the gap between the two sides' demands. The most action has occured in CWA District 6, where the negotiators rejected AT&T's "Last, best and final offer" in May and then walked away from the bargaining table June 18, but there haven't been any strike or lock-out announcements yet. The six separate contracts in question affect 112,500 AT&T employees.
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AT&T posted a $12.9 billion profit in 2008, but the revenue from the wireline division declined slightly, and was projected to continue to decrease for the foreseeable future. Also, AT&T saw some weakness entering 2009 due to economic conditions, and said it would cut capital expenditures by between 10 and 15 percent.
AT&T would like to see union concessions on health benefits, which has been an extremely contentious issue, judging from the comments on previous stories about the negotiations. The union members and retirees naturally don't want to give away anything they've negotiated for in the past, saying their benefits are barely sufficient currently. AT&T, on the other hand, sees the pickle GM and others are currently in due in part to the weight of future benefit allocations, and wants to manage expectations and future performance before, rather than after, they're in the red.
Fierce has received hundreds of comments on the ongoing story; some vehemently arguing the necessity of maintaining current union benefits, even if it means striking, and some that cast union members as greedy during a period of wide-spread economic hardship
We've updated the pages with new comments from both sides, so that you can get a sense of the positions being presented. Feel free to post your comments below, and we will continue to pull the best out for inclusion in the debate.
Thanks to Kay Nguyen and Nathan O'Neal for their help in compiling these comments.
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