AT&T's (NYSE: T) ongoing negotiations with their wireline union workforce took a turn late last week when thousands of employees in their California and Nevada regions walked off the job in a one-day protest.
The demonstration came as neither the telco nor the Communications Workers of America (CWA) have been able to agree on a union new labor contract.
According to the CWA, AT&T wireline employees held the one-day walkout to protest what they said were unreasonable contract demands, including "massive healthcare cost shifting to workers and their families" and changes to retirement benefits.
In April, a contract covering 40,000 CWA workers expired. While both sides continue to talk, a new contract has not been agreed upon yet. At that time, the telco feared a strike, but both sides went back to the negotiating table.
The 18,000 technicians who work in California and Nevada are part of CWA's ninth district.
Besides the telco's proposed concessions, this particular group was angered by remarks made by Betsy Farrell, an AT&T executive, in a memo that the Los Angeles Times obtained. According to the report, Farrell said that when workers leave their respective posts, "the company doesn't suffer. In fact, these actions help us financially when we don't pay you."
Although he would not talk about the memo, an AT&T spokesman said that "we want our employees on the job" and that the company is continuing to seek a fair contract with the union, adding: "These employees are very well-compensated and have great benefits, and that will continue to be the case."
Seperately, AT&T has established a tentative agreement with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) for a one-year contract extension covering about 7,000 wireline employees.
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