updated 04:50 pm EST, Fri February 6, 2009
ATT Staff May Strike
The Communications Workers of America union in a vote on Friday approved a strike for 20,000 AT&T Mobility workers in the event the group is unable to come to a last-minute deal with AT&T before a contract expires at midnight tonight. The two parties have been engaged in talks over terms for compensation, jobs and working conditions and differ sharply on the proximity of an agreement, with the CWA saying "very little progress" has been made while AT&T spokesman Walt Sharp calls the approval a normal part of negotiations and hopes for an agreement by the end of the day.
Action wouldn't be immediate if negotations fail by Saturday, as it would depend on a ratification of the vote's decision and a formal strike date announcement by the CWA's leadership.
A strike would potentially damage AT&T's efforts at retail and other sales representatives, who form a significant portion of CWA-supporting staff. AT&T says it's prepared for "all contingencies" should workers leave but hasn't said whether this involves bringing in temporary staff or adjusting other aspects of its business.
DSL service and other divisions within the carrier are unaffected.