AT&T and one of its primary unions have finally come to an agreement for more than 20,000 of the company’s wireless workers.
The Communications Workers of America (CWA) and AT&T signed a tentative agreement for AT&T’s “Orange” contract. AT&T says the agreement would last four years and cover workers in 36 states, in addition to the District of Columbia. The 20,000-plus employees must vote to ratify the agreement.
Negotiations over the contract have occurred before and after it expired in February. CWA held up AT&T’s outsourcing and offshoring of jobs as a chief complaint. While AT&T has resolved contract disputes with CWA in other regions, the discussions for Orange Contract took almost a year and incurred a weekend walkout.
But the CWA says it’s thrilled with the tentative deal, which entails raises of 10.1 percent over four years. Retail workers’ base pay will increase by $2,500 as a result of money moving over from commissions. The CWA says retail workers will earn $19.2 on average. The agreement also guarantees that CWA-member wireless workers will handle more customer service calls – an 80 percent increase in the number of total calls. Other benefits include job security for workers who lose their job title or store, as well as more leniency with sick days.
“AT&T wireless workers’ victory is a watershed moment, for themselves and their families, and for working people across the telecom sector who are fighting to keep good jobs in our communities,” said Chris Shelton, president of the CWA. “Call center representatives, retail workers and techs from small towns and big cities joined together and refused to back down until they made good jobs at AT&T a reality. This contract affirms the power of working people everywhere to join together and establish a new standard for America’s retail and telecom jobs.”
The workers will vote on the agreement Jan. 12. Dennis Trainor, vice president of CWA’s District 1, calls the “historic contract” an event that will set the tone for the rest of the telecom industry.
“The solidarity and persistence of our members pushed the company to agree to crucial protections like stronger job security for retail workers and greater fairness in evaluation and discipline procedures that put our members and their families on a path towards greater economic security,” Trainor said. “Let this be a sign to all companies that put profits above workers: when we stand together, we win.”