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Will 21,000 AT&T Employees Strike?

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About 21,000 AT&T workers are voting to decide if they will authorize a strike.

The Communication Workers of America (CWA), the union that represents wireless retail, call center, and technical workers, is attempting to renegotiate a contract with the telecommunications company. The current deal expires Feb. 11.

The CWA said its demands encompass “wages, commissions, transfers, holidays, job openings, scheduling, call out and on-call pay, overtime and differential.” The union said it met with AT&T to learn more about the company’s call monitoring system.

“The amount of monitoring our call-center members are subjected to creates a high-stress environment and we are working on language to improve the working conditions at the call centers,” the CWA wrote.{ad}

The CWA said AT&T plans to cut pension benefits for new hires, sick days and make employees shoulder one-third of health insurance premiums. AT&T said it has proposed cutting employee pay and benefits.

If the workers vote to authorize a strike, it would be the first of multiple steps required for an actual strike, and an AT&T spokesperson said it is “not an unexpected step in negotiations,” Fortune noted.

CWA said bargaining would resume today.

“The fight for good jobs, fair wages, and real job security is one that we take very seriously,” Yesenia Gonzalez, a wireless retail worker said in a statement. “Going on strike is a tough decision we’ll make together and if necessary we’ll be prepared to do it.”

AT&T has said it is committing to making a deal. It managed to forge an agreement with the union last summer and keep approximately 40,000 workers from going on strike. It avoided following suit with Verizon, which saw 40,000 wireline workers strike for 49 days.


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