updated 03:50 pm EDT, Wed July 15, 2009
AT&T reaches contract deal
Progress has potentially been made in the long-standing dispute between AT&T and the largest union in the US, as the cable and wireless company has reached a tentative contract with 18,500 employees in the American midwest, according to a Wednesday report. Leaders of the Communications Workers of America reached the deal after five months of negotiations and three months without a contract, which will be voted on by union members later this week or early next week.
An AT&T spokesperson said the proposed three-year contract guarantees 3 percent wage increases for each of the first two years and 2.75 percent for the last for the CWA landline employees. A sticking point of the unions regarded health care, and the new deal is said to "safeguard" employee health benefits, although the employees will need to cover some additional costs including premiums, deductibles and coinsurance.
AT&T is still engaged in negotiations with unions in four other districts, with a fifth one due soon. These employ some 100,000 workers. Another negotiation with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in the Midwest covers a further 8,900 workers. All of the above employees are in AT&T's landline business, which has been on the decline, compared to the steadily growing cellphone business.