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New AT&T, CWA Contract a Cushy Deal in Weak Economy

When AT&T Inc. (T) and its Communications Workers of America (CWA) wireline union members in the Southeast agreed to a new contract last week, they did so after making some changes to a tentative deal that was voted down on Jan. 29.

And those adjustments still come off as cushy when you compare the terms to many workers’ benefits.

The two parties shook hands, figuratively speaking, after AT&T lowered the health care premiums for 2011 and kept the 2010 premiums at zero. Next year, CWA members will pay $10 per month for individual coverage and $25 per month for families. The original amount was $35 and $75, respectively. In 2012, union members will pay the $35/$75 amount. Meantime, AT&T’s union-worker health care benefits provide 100 percent coverage for preventative care, said AT&T spokesman Marty Richter.

Also, rather than putting any payments for a “success-sharing” plan into a health reimbursement account, AT&T will distribute that money in cash. And for each of the three years covered in the accord, employees will receive pay and pension increases.

In addition, AT&T is providing a “job offer guarantee” clause. It promises qualified, surplused workers positions with certain AT&T units. Richter called the provision “a rare benefit even in good economic times.”

Finally, Richter pointed out that, contrary to previous reports, AT&T “stands ready to complete negotiations” with union workers in Connecticut – the lone region without a new bargain. Employees there have accused AT&T of refusing to talk with them. That, said Richter, is “not true.”

For all the details on the Southeast contract, click here.


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