The Communications Workers of America union last Friday released some of the terms of its tentative five-year agreement with AT&T for AT&T workers across nine Southern states.
After a four-day strike by more than 20,000 AT&T technicians, installers and customer service reps, the two sides reached a handshake agreement last Tuesday. AT&T Southeast employees across those Southern states were back at work on Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET.
“We’re pleased to have reached a tentative agreement with Communications Workers of America District 3 in Southeast wireline contract negotiations," said AT&T spokesperson Jim Kimberly in an email Tuesday to FierceTelecom. "We’ve been committed throughout this process to reaching a fair agreement. Out of respect for the union, we are not commenting on terms of the agreement in principle until union leadership has had an opportunity to share details with members.”
The new agreement included wage increases of 13.25%, pension and 401(k) plan enhancements, improved job security and additional customer service positions. There won't be an increase in the health care cost sharing percentage for the life of the contract and employees will have the ability to contribute to a health savings account via payroll deductions.
The AT&T workers went on strike after contending that the telco wasn't bargaining in good faith. Prior to the agreement, AT&T workers picketed across Florida, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Mississippi.
Agreements in principle also were reached on the smaller BellSouth Telecommunications – Utility Operations and AT&T Billing Southeast contracts, according to AT&T.
“This agreement provides substantial improvements for working people at AT&T Southeast,” said CWA District 3 Vice President Richard Honeycutt, in a statement. “The strike showed AT&T that our members were united. Once the company returned to the table with negotiators with decision-making authority, we were able to resolve the outstanding issues quickly.”
Additional details on the agreement will be provided to CWA District 3 members along with the procedures for the ratification vote.
The CWA had filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB( against AT&T. CWA said AT&T wasn't bargaining in good faith, and that it wasn't sending negotiators to the bargaining table who have the authority to make decisions.
In an email to FierceTelecom Tuesday morning, CWA spokeswoman Beth Allen said CWA has informed the NLRB that its withdrawing the unfair labor practice charge regarding AT&T's failure to bargain in good faith.
The strike had gained messages of support from Democratic presidential candidates including Senator Bernie Sanders, who rallied with union workers in Louisville, Kentucky, and tweets by former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Elizabeth Warren.