Fears were ripe in the market after hundreds of AT&T employees protested at the Tustin business center of the company with posters and effigies against the negotiations of the contract. As many as 15 % of the workforce of the firm was feared to have walked off on Sunday , with their union possessing the right to call a strike in case the negotiations by the labor union on issues like job security and healthcare of the employees didn’t take the right turn. But as the talks with the telephone company continued workers of AT&T Inc. have agreed upon continuing on the expired labor contract for the time being, a highly damaging strike for the company has been averted.
The employees at the telecom company are among the 40, 00 who voted to give the Communications Workers of America the right to call a strike as four different labor contracts are set to expire by the midnight of Saturday.
As a part of cost cuts the AT& T management has decided to cut down on benefits to its workers in the wireless sector, which stands at 256,000 currently, a segment which has seen blues off late. The part which irked the union most was that the company was looking on raising the cost of healthcare for the workers, besides the many concessions it was demanding. For almost 6000 legacy workers across various states and for almost 4000 workers in the eastern U.S, the contracts end of 7th of April.
The union has said that they have made potential advancement in the negotiations but there was still lot of agendas still to be worked upon. According to AT&T, its Midwestern contracts covers around 13000 employees while the union has numbered them to be around 15000, whose contracts also end at midnight. AT&T on the other hand has called the negotiations as a reflection the unified spirit of understanding between the company and the union. Contract negotiation with the CWA for the four contracts has been on since February.
Last year , Verizon ; rivals to the wireless company; had to face a similar situation after the contracts expired , the deliberations for the same are ongoing unto now , some eight months from the strike.
The last time AT&T had to face a similar situation was in 2004, and then called as SBC Communications, after nearly 100,000 workers walked out calling a strike for four days. The firm changed its name to AT&T after they bought AT&T Corp. later in 2005.