AT&T inks tentative deal with CWA, potentially ending 11-month labor standoff

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The proposed agreement will be submitted to union members within the next month.

AT&T said it reached a tentative agreement with the Communications Workers of America, potentially ending a standoff that has lasted nearly a year.

The four-year pact, which will be submitted to union members for a ratification vote within the next month, covers roughly 21,000 wireless employees across 36 states in AT&T's Mobility Orange unit. The agreement provides 10.1% in raises over that timeframe, shifting $2,500 from commissions to base pay for retail workers, according to the CWA.

Under the deal, the retail workers will be paid an average of $19.20, the union said, which is 74% more than the national average for retail workers. The carrier said more information on the proposed deal will be posted on its website as it becomes available.

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“AT&T wireless workers’ victory is a watershed moment, for themselves and their families, and for working people across the telecom sector who are fighting to keep good jobs in our communities,” said Chris Shelton, president of the Communications Workers of America, in the union’s announcement. “Call center representatives, retail workers and techs from small towns and big cities joined together and refused to back down until they made good jobs at AT&T a reality. This contract affirms the power of working people everywhere to join together and establish a new standard for America’s retail and telecom jobs.”

The news comes just six weeks after AT&T presented what it called a “final offer” to resolve the matter.

The CWA has argued that AT&T generates “nearly $1 billion a month in profits”—it posted a $3.56 billion first-quarter profit this year—and is “failing to invest in its core business and infrastructure” as it outsources and moves jobs offshore. The CWA alleged that AT&T has cut 12,000 call center jobs in the United States since 2011, opting instead to contract with third-party companies in other countries.

AT&T in May was forced to close hundreds of stores across the country over one weekend as tens of thousands of workers staged a three-day strike.

The CWA was involved in a 45-day strike last year by 40,000 Verizon wireline workers. That stoppage slowed Verizon’s network investment slightly during the second quarter, according to analysts, and ended with agreements that a union representative described as “an incredible victory” for the workers. AT&T reportedly hasn’t suffered a significant work stoppage since a two-day walkout in 2012.

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