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AT&T workers protest outside a store
AT&T wireless workers held an information picket line demonstration outside a store in New York in January, 2017.  Photo credit: Communications Workers of America

AT&T’s Union Deal Reverses Outsourcing 3,000 Jobs

Mar 03, 2017

Amid several more contentious labor negotiations, AT&T and its biggest union announced they had settled terms early for a unit that covers 20,000 workers in the south.

The Communications Workers of America and AT&T said they had struck a tentative four-year contract deal for workers in the company's wired telephone, cable, and Internet business in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas a month before the old contract expired. A key piece of the deal, which still must be approved by the workers, is a promise by AT&T to hire 3,000 people locally for jobs that have been previously outsourced, mostly overseas.

The agreement comes as AT&T is facing tougher talks with the CWA over contracts that have already expired for 21,000 workers in the company's wireless business and 17,000 workers in the phone, Internet, and cable units in Nevada and California. While negotiations continue in those cases, the workers have been protesting around the country and authorized a strike, if necessary.

But AT&T has had mostly good relations with its workers in recent years–unlike Verizon Communications (vz), which suffered a bitter, seven-week strike last year.

Friday's announcement marks another in a long line of successful deals. Since the start of 2015, AT&T (t) has completed 28 straight deals with its unions, covering 123,000 workers. The last strike at the company was in 2012, and just for two days.

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Under the deal announced on Friday, workers will get wage increases totaling over 11% over the four years and two weeks of paid parental leave for mothers or fathers, AT&T said.

The CWA highlighted that the deal included "affordable" healthcare plans, one of the sticking points in the two more contentious negotiations. But the commitment by AT&T to hire locally for jobs previously outsourced may have been just as important.

Like the Verizon workers who went out on strike, AT&T's workers have also lately been focused on their employer's outsourcing of call center jobs outside of the country. The union charges that the carrier has moved 8,000 call center jobs since 2011 to countries including the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and the Philippines.

Halting the offshoring of call center jobs has also been the focus of a growing number of Democratic lawmakers in Congress. They introduced legislation this week, with the backing of the CWA, to discourage call center offshoring, after a plea to President Donald Trump to take such action by executive order was ignored.

AT&T said it committed to hire 3,000 people in the local areas to fill work that is currently mostly performed offshore.

"W e worked with the union to bring work opportunities to the region," a spokesman for the company tells Fortune. " Regarding the type of jobs, we will make those decisions as we work through and evaluate the needs of our business-we will consider all areas of our operations in the Southwest and place them where it makes the most sense."

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