AT&T Reaches Deal With Half of the Workers Who Went on Strike

Jun 03, 2017

AT&T reached a tentative agreement on a new contract for 17,000 workers on Friday night, settling with almost half of the employees who walked out on short strike last weekend.

The four-year deal with the Communications Workers of America union still must be approved by the workers in California and Nevada in AT&T's traditional phone and Internet business and its DirecTV unit. Talks are ongoing with a second group of about 21,000 wireless workers in 36 states and Washington, D.C. who also walked out last weekend.

The deal marks the 30th successful negotiation between AT&T and its unionized workers since the beginning of 2015. The short strike last weekend marked the first labor action at the carrier since 2012, and that lasted only two days. That stands in sharp contrast to the more contentious dealings between the CWA union and Verizon (vz), where workers went on a bitter, seven week strike last year.

Neither side revealed many details about the tentative agreement. Workers had been concerned about the size of wage hikes, higher required healthcare contributions, and job security, particularly for call center jobs which could be outsourced overseas. AT&T has been dealing with pressure from Wall Street to cut costs amid declining revenue in both its wired and wireless phone businesses.

Both sides did say they were pleased to reach a settlement.

"We strive in all of our labor negotiations to reach fair agreements that will allow us to continue to provide solid union careers with excellent wages and benefits and we believe that's the case with this agreement," an AT&T (t) spokesman said in a statement.

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“I’m proud of their solidarity and of the hard work of our bargaining teams that were determined to reach a fair contract," CWA District 9 vice president Tom Runnion said in a statement from the union.

Last weekend's strike by a total of nearly 40,000 workers forced AT&T to close hundreds of stores from Alaska to Michigan to Rhode Island. The wired unit employees who settled on Friday had been working without a contract for over a year, while the wireless employees who are still negotiating have been working without a contract since February.

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