AT&T Mobility workers voted to ratify a new contract with the carrier, approving a tentative agreement that was announced earlier this month.
The Communications Workers of America (CWA) notified the carrier that members voted to ratify the four-year pact, which covers 42,000 union workers and addresses health care and other benefits. Wages, pension and work rules for union-represented Mobility employees are negotiated under separate deals.
CWA said highlights of the agreement include reduced premium costs for 20,000 employees hired after 2014; lower rates for employees with dependent children and no covered spouse; and a new option with lower premium costs. The deal would also enable employees in Puerto Rico to take advantage of popular HMO plans with lower contribution rates.
“Our main goal was to put health care benefits bargaining back in the regional bargaining agreement process and to make health care affordable for all Mobility workers,” CWA District 1 Vice President Dennis Trainor said in a news release. “This new contract reduces healthcare costs and will improve the standard of living for our members.”
The move follows weeks of negotiations and appears to end what could have been damaging for the nation’s No. 2 carrier had the standoff dragged into next year. The existing health care contract is in effect through the end of the year and includes a no-strike provision, however, so a work stoppage wasn't an immediate concern.
Verizon endured a 45-day strike by 40,000 wireline workers earlier this year. That stoppage slowed Verizon’s network investment slightly during the second quarter, according to analysts, and ended with agreements that Trainor described as “an incredible victory” for the union workers.
T-Mobile has also experienced union troubles in recent weeks. The National Labor Relations Board said the carrier’s employ handbook violates National Labor Relations Act by citing a “conduct policy” that could be viewed as banning employees from engaging in union activities. The policy’s language is too vague, the Board said, and some employees may not engage with unions for fear of running afoul of the policy.
- see this AT&T press release
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