Sunday, April 5, 2009

Yesterday was another busy day.

Tom and I had breakfast at Kel's and then ran errands. Among our many stops: Target, Tiffany's at the Galleria (to pick up my necklace that was being repaired), car wash, SuperCuts & the dry cleaners. By the time we got home, Casey (our housekeeper) was there getting things back to normal.

UPDATE: Rob finished painting on Friday, except for the inside front door and some minor touch-up. The new paint job looks fantastic! I must say that Tom did a great job picking out the colors! He truly is VERY good at that kind of thing, although he doesn't think so.

We then took an afternoon drive to locate the call center that I would have to work in should there be a work stoppage at my company. Since I'm not very good at directions (even with my navigator) I wanted to make a test run.

It was a beautiful 80 degree day in Dallas so when we got home from our drive I sat by the pool (in a tee-shirt and a pair of shorts) to read, relax and soak up some rays! I needed some downtime after the extremely busy week I had at work.

After a late afternoon nap, it was time to go to a spring party at Ranil & Craig's house. Ranil and Craig are good friends that we met through LCR. They had Uncle Julio's cater the food (fajitas) which was a nice treat since that is one of our favorite places to eat! We had fun and saw a lot of friends, but left the party early (around 9:30pm).

With a potential work stoppage looming I didn't want to stay out too late - this worked out fine since Tom really doesn't likes to stay out past 9:30pm anyway! As each time zone reached the 11:59pm expiration of the company/union contract I received text updates. Good news on that front: although a settlement has not been reached, talks are continuing WITHOUT a work stoppage - see below AP article for the latest.

AT&T and union talks continue past deadline

AT&T and unions for its landline workers were working past a strike deadline Sunday to try to reach agreement on a new contract.

Core wireline contracts across the country expired at 11:59 p.m. Saturday, but union-represented employees covered by those contracts continued to work under the old agreements, according to a statement issued by AT&T.

Issues such as employment security and health care have yet to be resolved, but union members will report to work, "although that can change at any time," the Communications Workers of America said on its Web site Sunday.

The union said several of its districts have filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board, accusing AT&T of refusing to provide information necessary to resolve outstanding issues.

"The CWA bargaining teams are very frustrated by AT&T's slow pace in negotiations," union spokeswoman Candice Johnson said late Saturday.

AT&T spokesman Walt Sharp said the NLRB charges are "very common" during negotiations and that AT&T stands ready to negotiate at any time to reach an agreement.

AT&T is the most heavily unionized company in the U.S., with either 112,500 CWA workers (according to the company) or 125,000 (according to the union).

The company has said a strike won't disrupt phone service because managers and contractors can keep the operation running. When this batch of contracts expired five years ago, workers struck for four days before reaching an agreement.

One key issue is the Dallas-based company's attempt to have workers and retirees pay more of the costs of their health care. The company has said it spends $5.5 billion per year to subsidize health care for 1.2 million people, including workers, retirees, and dependents.

The company said other remaining issues include wages, pensions, and work rules.

Contracts for workers in five units were each expiring at 11:59 p.m. local time in their region. Each region was bargaining separately. That means some could make a deal while others strike, Johnson said.

The units include a national group as well as workers in the Northeast, Midwest, Southwest, and West. The talks were taking place in New Haven, Conn.; Oakton, Va.; the Chicago area; Austin, Texas; and San Francisco.

An update posted Saturday by the unit that covers Midwestern workers said the company was offering "modest wage increases that would likely have our standard of living move backward over the life of the contract." AT&T also wants to reduce the value of lump-sum pension payments and eliminate the pension for new workers, the union said.

AT&T "told us that the benefits/pension proposal was a 'final offer.' They are either not serious about the word 'final' or not serious about getting a contract," the union wrote.

Workers in the Southeast, who were bargaining in Atlanta, agreed to stop negotiations and reconvene this summer. Their contract doesn't expire until August so they can't strike at midnight, the company said.

The employees covered by the expiring contracts work for the part of the company that is shrinking. AT&T's traditional wired phone business fell 3.3 percent to $17.1 billion last year, while wireless revenue grew 13 percent to $12.9 billion as customers continued to defect to cable phone services or dropped their landlines in favor of mobile phones.

AT&T earned a $12.9 billion profit for the year, up from $12 billion in 2007. Its fourth-quarter profit fell 24 percent from the prior year, though, paradoxically because of its success in selling more of Apple's iPhones than expected. AT&T subsidizes the upfront expense of the iPhone, aiming to make the money back over the two-year service contract.

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