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AT&T Labor Contract Gets Approval, Layoff Lawsuit Still Pending

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Strife between AT&T and Communication Workers of America (CWA) briefly paused last weekend as union members officially agreed to a new contract.

CWA informed AT&T that its proposed “Orange” contract for approximately 20,000 workers in 36 states and Washington, D.C. has been officially ratified.

CWA’s Dennis Trainor

CWA’s Dennis Trainor

The new Orange contract includes salary raises and a promise from AT&T that it will outsource and offshore less of its customer service work. Union-represented wireless workers will field 80 percent more customer service calls, and 14,000 retail workers will see $2,500 shift from their commissions to base pay. The deal also adds new job security provisions, health insurance cost-sharing and increased flexibility for sick days.

The two parties first announced the deal a month ago, but union-represented employees finally voted to ratify it Jan. 12.

Tensions between the union and the carrier rose during the month of waiting. CWA sued AT&T for its plan to lay off 713 employees, many of whom will see their jobs outsourced to contractors. But the union says it is pleased with the result of its contract negotiations.

“When working people have the freedom to join together and negotiate, they can use their power to increase job security and keep good jobs in our communities,” said Dennis Trainor, vice president of CWA’s first district. “CWA members at AT&T Wireless should be proud of what they have achieved through their solidarity and persistence.”

An “overwhelming majority” of union members voted in favor of ratification. Brandon Beck, a San Diego-based wireless retail worker, says the contract rewards him and fellow wireless workers.

“We have successfully fought back together against increased sales pressure, reduced pay, and the frustration of outsourced and offshored call centers. We can breathe easier knowing the service to our customers will be better and our future will be brighter. Quality jobs are here to stay and grow,” Beck said.

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