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AT&T Will Bring Back Outsourced Jobs Under Union Deal

April 7, 2017, 2:11 PM UTC

As AT&T struggles with several difficult union contract negotiations, the carrier hammered out a deal with 20,000 workers in five states. Part of the agreement includes a commitment by AT&T to hire 3,000 people locally for jobs that have been previously outsourced, mostly overseas.

Employees covered by the new deal—those who work in AT&T’s wired telephone, cable, and Internet businesses across Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas—voted to ratify the a four-year contract, AT&T said on Friday. The workers—members of the Communications Workers of America union—include 900 DirecTV employees, who joined AT&T in 2015. The new contract includes annual wage increases plus a ratification bonus of $1,000 as well as two weeks of paid parental leave for mothers or fathers.

The ratification vote marks the 28th deal approved by AT&T and its unionized workers, a string of positive labor relations going back to the beginning of 2015.

But the agreement, which was struck before the prior contract even expired, stands in stark contrast to two more contentious ongoing negotiations. Approximately 17,000 phone workers in California and Nevada are planning a huge protest on Sunday on the one-year anniversary of their contract expiration. And another 21,000 mobile unit workers spread across 36 states have authorized a strike in a their battle with the company.

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But the commitment by AT&T to hire locally for jobs previously outsourced may have been just as important.

Like Verizon (VZ) workers who went out on strike last year, AT&T’s workers have lately been focused on their employer’s outsourcing of call center jobs outside of the country. The CWA 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 last month, 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 (T) wasn’t specific about what kinds of jobs it would return to the local region, but praised the union for its “longstanding good relationship” with the company. The 3,000 job commitment is “an example of what can be achieved when the two sides work together,” a spokesperson for AT&T said.