Sunday, April 5, 2009

AT&T Bargaining Update

Below is a public statement released today by AT&T. Going into the new week, I'm just going to focus on doing my job and try not to let the ongoing negotiations be a distraction.

Negotiations continue, AT&T announces highlights of proposals to CWA
April 5 – Today AT&T Inc. and Communications Workers of America (CWA) continued to meet and negotiate toward new agreements for 80,500 Core wireline employees. The current agreements expired at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, April 4.

In the Southeast, where the contract does not expire until August 8, both parties have agreed to stop negotiations and reconvene this summer – as they would have under normal circumstances. These 32,000 union-represented employees are no longer part of the current negotiations.

AT&T’s wireline business is declining (20 percent of consumer access lines lost in the past 3 years), yet it is the part of the business where union employees have the richest health care benefits. Union-represented Core wireline employees pay similar amounts for their health care as union workers at the Big 3 automakers pay – and it’s clear what those sorts of unsustainable costs have done to America’s auto industry. These employees also pay significantly lower than what other AT&T employees pay, including those covered by other CWA contracts.

In a time when other employers are totally abandoning health care benefits – as well as pensions and wage increases – AT&T takes pride in being able to continue to provide good jobs with good wages and benefits that among the best in the nation to all of its employees. To that end, here is a general summary of the present proposals made by AT&T:

• Health care plans that keep Core wireline bargained-for employees with lower health care costs than AT&T management, other recently negotiated CWA agreements, competitors and well below the national average – remaining one the of most robust health care plans in the nation. Some elements of the plans include:
o Employee heath care costs pegged to wages, so that those who earn less, pay less for deductibles
o Full company-funded coverage of all preventative care, including annual physicals, mammograms, well-baby care, and immunizations
• Wage increases for all years of the agreement, through a combination of wage progression, raises and lump sum payments – at a time when many U.S. employers are either asking for wage concessions or freezing wages
• Upgrades for premises technicians – including additional wage increases beyond those outlined above and, where needed, conversion of employees from temporary to regular status
• Increase in pension contributions every year of the agreement and continuation of the 401k plan with generous company match, even as employers are decreasing or eliminating this benefit

It is important to note that the highlights above are what the company has proposed and is not an all-inclusive list. All items are still on the table and pending negotiation by the Company and the union.

The Company stands ready to negotiate with the CWA at any time in a continuing effort to reach an agreement.

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