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AT&T Reaches Tentative Labor Deal With 21,000 Wireless Workers

AT&T reached a tentative deal on a new four-year contract with some 21,000 workers in its wireless business that includes provisions to reduce job outsourcing overseas.

The employees, who had been without a contract since February, will get raises of 10% over the four years once they vote to ratify the deal. AT&T also agreed to guarantee an amount of customer service work for U.S.-based call centers that would almost double the call volume from current levels. And AT&T agreed to find new jobs for workers who lose their spots when a call center or retail store is closed.

Offshoring and job outsourcing was a top concern for workers while improving job security was a top requirement for the Communications Workers of America union that represents them. The new deal, including the call center guarantee and a provision shifting some commission pay to base salary, was sweetened from AT&T’s “final offer” to the CWA in October.

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“Call center representatives, retail workers and techs from small towns and big cities joined together and refused to back down until they made good jobs at AT&T a reality,” CWA president Chris Shelton said in a statement. “This contract affirms the power of working people everywhere to join together and establish a new standard for America’s retail and telecom jobs.”

AT&T said it typically does not comment in detail before workers are presented with the agreement. “We strive in all of our contract negotiations to reach fair deals that will allow us to continue to provide solid union-represented jobs with excellent wages and benefits, and we believe that’s the case here,” a spokesman said. With the agreement, AT&T said it has no outstanding negotiations open.

The deal marks the latest in a long line of peaceful labor agreements at AT&T, in sharp contrast to the bitter seven-week strike by Verizon (VZ) workers last year when their contract talks hit a wall. The AT&T wireless workers went on a brief weekend strike in May, the first at AT&T since 2012, and have held occasional protests at stores around the country.

The talks dragged on as AT&T (T) has been trying to cut costs at a time when both its wired and wireless businesses face shrinking revenue. The carrier is also mired in a fight with regulators over its effort to buy Time Warner. And the AT&T’s stock has dropped 11% this year compared with a 19% gain in the S&P 500 Index.

(Update: This story was updated on Dec. 14 to clarify AT&T’s comment policy on tentative contract deals.)