AT&T presents 'final offer' in labor standoff with 20K workers

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AT&T and the CWA have been struggling to hash out a new contract since February.

AT&T said it presented a “final offer” to resolve negotiations with roughly 20,000 AT&T employees in 36 states.

But even as talks drag on into their tenth month, it doesn’t sound like the sides are close to striking a deal.

The nation’s second-largest carrier said the offer on the table covers jobs averaging $70,000 in pay and benefits, with some positions averaging more than $115,000. It includes retroactive pay hikes back to February, when the last contract expired, job security provisions “that are unheard of in the wireless industry,” and healthcare and retirement benefits, AT&T said.

The proposed agreement is the company’s only remaining open contract and would cover 7% of the company’s employees.

“All employees covered by this good-faith offer will be better off, and we hope they will consider it carefully and ask union leadership for an opportunity to vote on it,” an AT&T spokesperson said. “It’s a fair offer.”

The spokesperson added that while the offer is described as “final,” the carrier is “always available to discuss the offer” with union representatives.

The Communications Workers of America (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 the weekend as tens of thousands of workers staged a three-day strike.

AT&T’s latest claims didn’t resonate with Carissa Curman Moore, however, an AT&T Mobility employee and CWA member.

“AT&T is playing games and trying to settle for less on their terms, not ours,” Moore said in a statement via the union. “After months and months of AT&T executives refusing to bargain on job security, their so-called offer is anything but serious. We’re resolved in our fight to win a fair contract that stops offshoring jobs and moving retail jobs to low-quality contractors. Rhetoric and shiny brochures don’t pay the bills and don’t protect against AT&T’s proven record of shipping jobs to the Philippines—for that, we need a fair contract that addresses the real issues that matter to our lives and livelihoods.”

The CWA also cited a letter sent from 17 U.S. senators to AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson imploring the company to come to terms with the workers.

“Even as AT&T faces the challenges of a rapidly evolving and volatile telecommunications industry, AT&T wireless workers are driving tremendous profits,” the senators wrote this week. “We strongly encourage you to reevaluate the current situation and engage constructively with the union negotiators to reach a contract agreement that promotes both the interests of American workers and AT&T.”