AT&T wireline union workers in East, West regions go on strike

AT&T (NYSE: T) wireline workers on the East and West Coast represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) union began a strike on Tuesday.

Covering over 20,000 employees, the contracts expired on April 7. The West contract covers over 17,000 wireline workers in California and Nevada, while the East contract covers more than 3,000 wireline employees in Connecticut.

Like fellow ILEC Verizon (NYSE: VZ), AT&T and the union have been battling one another over various benefit issues including paid time off and health care costs.

"A strike is not in anyone's best interest, and it's unfortunate local union leaders in the West and East regions chose to take this action, especially considering we have already reached agreements with local CWA and IBEW leaders in other contracts where employees perform the same type of work," AT&T said in statement.

Candice Johnson, a CWA spokeswoman, disagreed with AT&T's contention.

"These strikes are centered around unfair labor practices, denying workers the right to engage in protected activity, such as union activity," Johnson said in a Bloomberg article  

In related union news, AT&T Southeast, which was formally known as BellSouth, reached a tentative agreement with the CWA covering 22,000 employees. This new agreement, which will be submitted to union's membership for ratification, covers wireline employees in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

Last month, AT&T reached a tentative agreement with the CWA union covering wireline workers in both the AT&T Midwest region and AT&T Corp (CWA Communications and Technologies unit).

To date, the telco said it has completed agreements almost 48,000 wireline employees.

AT&T said the new three-year agreement, which replaces a tentative agreement set to expire on August 9, with AT&T Southeast "includes wage increases in each year and modest pension increases."

For more:
- see the release
- Bloomberg has this article

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