AT&T Wireless Employees Ratify Contract

AT&T on Wednesday announced that wireless employees in its Southwest Region have voted to ratify a four-year pact with the Communications Workers of America, the organization that describes itself as the world’s largest telecommunications union.

Dallas-based AT&T said the agreement was reached early last month and covers 8,800 CWA members in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas. The four-year contract is retroactive to Feb. 25, 2012.

AT&T made the announcement in the midst of uncertainty over its negotiations with the CWA over contracts covering around 40,000 wireline workers. AT&T faces a potential strike if it can’t reach an agreement by this weekend, when the current contracts expire.

AT&T employees have voted to allow the CWA to authorize a strike after the current contracts expire, but AT&T noted Wednesday that “a strike authorization is not the same as calling a strike.”

“The vote itself has little impact on negotiations and we remain confident that an agreement will be reached,” AT&T said on a website dedicated to the negotiations.

This year is a busy one for AT&T in its contract bargaining with its vast workforce; the company said negotiations this year will cover about 70,000 wireline employees.

Besides the contract currently in dispute, AT&T will negotiate other contracts later this year covering about 30,000 workers. The Midwest IWEB contract expires June 23 while the Southeast CWA contract ends Aug. 4. The IWEB or International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers is another union representing AT&T workers.

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