AT&T Workers Stay Off Picket Lines for Now

Some 40,000 workers at AT&T Inc. haven’t hit the picket lines despite failing to reach new contracts with the telecommunications giant.

The Communications Workers of America is continuing to negotiate with AT&T on contracts that expired over the weekend. The good news for AT&T is that the employees are continuing to report to work.

In an update on Easter Sunday, the Communications Workers of America’s Legacy T unit said its bargaining team met with AT&T until 2 a.m. Sunday. CWA reps then also met with AT&T later on Sunday.

“You should be clear, just because we did not go on strike, there can be NO BUSINESS AS USUAL,” the CWA said in the update. “We must take the fight, not just into the work place, but into our communities and let everyone know that AT&T, one of the most profitable companies in America, is taking the LOW road and trying to destroy middle class jobs.”

Dallas-based AT&T has said it is committed to protecting good-paying, middle-class jobs.

Although contracts have expired covering wireline workers at AT&T East, Midwest, West and Legacy, the employees are still protected under the old agreements. AT&T has been negotiating with the union on benefits, pension, wages and work rules covering employees with call center and network positions, AT&T spokesman Marty Richter said last week.

“Wages, working conditions and benefits like health care will continue unchanged, with the exception of arbitration for grievances,” CWA Vice President Ralph Maly said just before the CWA’s agreements expired.

The continuing negotiations, AT&T said, “reflect the spirit of the longstanding relationship between the company and the union.”

The West contract covers around 17,000 workers in California and Nevada. The Midwest agreement impacts roughly 13,000 employees in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. The East contract covers around 3,000 employees in Connecticut while the Legacy T agreement affects about 6,000 workers across the country.

Richter said last week the average network technician covered under the expired contracts earns $133,000 in benefits and wages while the average call center rep makes $107,000.

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