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Strike Averted: CWA-Represented AT&T Southwest Mobility Workers Reach Tentative Contract Agreement - 8,000 Workers Had Given Their Approval To Strike If A Contract Was Not Reached

Published Monday, February 24, 2020
by Labor News Services & Staff
Strike Averted: CWA-Represented AT&T Southwest Mobility Workers Reach Tentative Contract Agreement - 8,000 Workers Had Given Their Approval To Strike If A Contract Was Not Reached

(DALLAS, TEXAS) – The Communications Workers of America (CWA) has announced it has reached tentative agreement with AT&T on a new four-year contract that covers 8,000 Southwest Mobility Employees, which - in the process, avoided an authorized Strike by Union Members.

The CWA-AT&T Southwest Mobility contract covers Technicians, Call Center Customer Support Workers and representatives at AT&T’s Retail Stores in Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas.

The tentative agreement provides for pay raises, affordable health care and a guarantee that a share of AT&T Mobility customer calls will continue to be handled by experienced, well-trained CWA-represented Customer Service Representatives located in the Southwest.

"I am ‘proud’ of our CWA Bargaining Team for negotiating a ‘strong’ contract that ‘protects good, family-supporting jobs in the Southwest,’” said CWA District 6 Vice President Claude Cummings. “CWA members at AT&T Southwest Mobility ‘proved that they were willing to fight’ for their jobs, affordable health care and better wages ‘by overwhelmingly voting to Strike if necessary.’  That, along with their months of workplace mobilization activities, ‘pushed the company to reach this agreement in a timely fashion.’”

Details of the proposed contract are being provided to local leadership and a ratification vote will be held once CWA Members have an opportunity to review the details of the agreement.

The CWA-represented AT&T Southwest Mobility Workers in Texas had authorized a Strike if their Union could now reach a new contract with the Dallas-based Media and Tele-Communications Company.

At the same time, CWA had continued to raise concerns about job cuts if an activist investor's proposals are followed by the company.  The Unionized Workers, who have been contract negotiations with AT&T for several weeks, voted to authorize a potential Strike last week.

The CWA and AT&T agreed to extend a contract covering Southwest Mobility Workers to 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, February 22nd to allow additional time for negotiations.

The contract expired at midnight on Friday, February 21st.

Union Members had voted 98% in favor of giving its Union authority to Strike.

Bargaining over a new contract between CWA-represented Employees and AT&T has been on-going since February 4th.

CWA’s 8,000 Members employed at Southwest Mobility account for roughly 3% of the company, according to AT&T.  They span Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas and nearly half of the Workers are in Texas.

The authorization vote didn’t mean Workers would Strike, but in August, 20,000 AT&T Workers went on Strike in nine states across the Southeastern U.S. protesting what Union Leaders described as Unfair Labor Practices in contract negotiations.

“AT&T Mobility Workers in the Southwest are not afraid to do whatever it takes to make sure that the company invests in its Employees so that we can build and support the next generation networks that our communities need,” CWA Staff Representative Jason Vellmer said in a statement. “We have made progress toward a fair contract over the last few days, but several critical issues remain unresolved."

Union Negotiators had said they were seeking wage and benefit increases and “a commitment to keeping good, family-supporting jobs in the region.”

Job cuts at AT&T have been a particular point of concern for the CWA as AT&T has cut more than 37,000 jobs since the Republican Trump Administration’s tax cuts for the wealthy took effect in 2018, according to the Union.

In its latest quarterly results, AT&T reported it has 4,040 fewer employees than three months earlier.  The company had 247,800 Employees at the end of 2019.

CWA also reiterated its concern about Activist Investor Elliott Management’s influence over AT&T’s operations.

The New York Hedge Fund bought a $3.2 billion position in AT&T in September and issued a four-part plan to boost the company’s stock price above $60 by the end of 2021.

“Elliott is pushing AT&T to extract profits from the company by eliminating jobs, outsourcing work and divesting critical assets,” according to CWA.

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