Contract Freshly Expired, AT&T Workers Hold Off On Strike

AT&T and the Communication Workers of America (CWA) both say thousands of the telecommunication giant’s employees will continue to work after their collective bargaining agreement expired Saturday.

The lack of a deal directly impacts union wireline workers – 28,000, according to CWA District 3, and 24,000, according to AT&T – in nine southeastern U.S. states. CWA is demanding a stop to what it calls “excessive forced overtime,” among other complaints about working conditions.

Although there is no official strike, workers picketed outside the CWA District 3 building in Georgia on Friday.

Both parties have released statements since their contract ended at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, and their responses paint vastly different perspectives of the situation. AT&T struck a positive tone about the “cooperative spirit of the longstanding relationship between the company and the union,” while CWA scolded the company for “following a greedy agenda.”

“AT&T is a very profitable company, posting profits of $6.5 billion in 2014. Workers at AT&T deserve to share in the company’s success,” the CWA said.

Although the employees are going to work this week, the union made it clear that a strike is possible.

“Our members showed their determination to get a fair contract with 96 percent voting to authorize a strike if necessary,” CWA District 3 vice president Richard Honeycutt said. “That remains an option. For now, we’ll be on the job, without our contract, but providing the quality service customers deserve.”

The southeastern states impacted are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

“Employees will work under the terms of the expired contract while negotiations continue,” AT&T said in a brief statement, according to WSB-TV.

CWA has been busy with negotiations in the past two weeks, as East Coast Verizon workers saw a bargaining agreement expire August 1. The Verizon employees have also refrained from striking.

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