RALEIGH – An extension of contract talks expired late Saturday night but unionized workers remain on the job at AT&T as both sides pledge to continue to seek a new agreement.
“Negotiations will continue with the current contract expired,” said Richard Honeycutt, Vice-President of the Communications Workers of America [CWA] District 3, in a statement Saturday. The district represents some 22,000 AT&T workers across the southeast.
“Our members will continue to report to work, although we are keeping our option to strike open. Our members, by a 95% vote, have overwhelmingly authorized CWA to call a strike if a fair contract can’t be reached.”
Marty Richter, a spokesperson for AT&T, told WRAL TechWire early Sunday that talks will continue.
“Right, although a settlement was not reached before expiration of the extended contract, employees will work under the terms of the expired contract while negotiations continue,” Richter said.
“We remain committed to reaching a fair contract that will allow us to continue to provide solid union-represented careers with competitive wages and benefits.”
Honeycutt noted that progress was being made but added several issues are not resolved.
He cited “many critical issues” have yet to be resolved, including:
- Job security
“Our bargaining team has made significant progress on several issues that are important to our membership and we believe that reaching an overall tentative agreement is possible,” he added.
“For now, we are going to keep our fight for fair contracts going while we stay on the job but we have not extended the contracts. For weeks, we have pressed AT&T Southeast to move off of their bargaining demands that will hurt workers, their families, and our communities. We are ready to bargain for a fair and just contract, but we need AT&T Southeast to be ready to do the same. Through two months of difficult negotiations, the combination of our mobilization activities across District 3 and our team’s efforts at the bargaining table, has moved the company closer to meeting our demands and settling the contracts.”
Richter noted that AT&T has reached agreement with several other CWA districts for new contracts.
“Since the beginning of 2017 we’ve successfully bargained – and union-represented employees have voted to ratify – 20 agreements collectively covering about 89,000 employees, and we look forward to doing the same here,” he said.
“That includes three wireline contracts that CWA-represented employees ratified last week by a substantial margin.”
The old contract expired Aug. 3.
The CWA group represents workers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky and Mississippi.
Last month, the union said the telecom giant is cutting hundreds of jobs in the southeast.
The cuts of 911 jobs represents more than half the 1,800 layoffs being made nationally, according to the CWA.
AT&T says it is hiring to fill other open jobs. Specifics about where cuts are being made have not been disclosed.
The union says it has made clear it will not there will be no “give backs” in a new contract.