AT&T internet employees represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) voted 92 percent to authorize a strike if a new contract can't be worked out, but the telco says the two sides will eventually settle their differences.
CWA and AT&T began negotiating a new agreement in June and are still working out the details.
“A strike vote is not an unexpected step in negotiations of this sort and is routinely a part of the process,” said Marty Richter, an AT&T spokesman, in an e-mail to FierceTelecom. “We remain confident that an agreement will be reached.”
The current National Internet Contract (NIC), which expired on July 23, covers 2,000 Internet Services Contract wireline members who work at call centers, providing customer and technical support. These employees, who represent less than one half of the telco's workforce, support AT&T’s IP-based services, such as IPTV and DSL.
CWA said in a blog post that AT&T has taken “a hard line against workers' key bargaining issues including a fair increase in wages and benefits.”
Richter said that while AT&T and CWA members did not reach an agreement after the contract expired in July, “the two sides agreed to an indefinite contract extension and negotiations are continuing.”
To its credit, AT&T has been making progress in negotiating new contracts with its union workforce.
In April, CWA-represented employees voted to ratify a union labor agreement covering more than 9,400 Mobility employees in its Southwest region. Earlier, CWA members ratified a contract with its Southeast wireline operations employees, and smaller regional contracts covering AT&T Billing Southeast and Southeast Utility Operations -- totaling about 24,000 wireline employees in the region.
- see this CWA post
AT&T, CWA begin negotiations covering 2K internet workers
AT&T CWA West wireline workers end week long grievance strike
AT&T and CWA finalize new labor contract, closing out months of negotiations