AT&T and the Communication Workers of America have announced a tentative four-year labor agreement for AT&T’s Southwest wireline operations in Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas.
The four-year agreement will be submitted for a CWA member vote in the next few days.
The pact, which would become effective April 9, covers more than 20,000 employees. The current contract expires April 8. The agreement has a built-in incentive for ratification before April 7 — a $1,000 bonus to each eligible employee.
The new contract, if approved, would provide wage increases each year. It calls for 3 percent the first year, 2.5 percent the second year, 3 percent the third year, and 2.25 percent the fourth year. It also would provide two weeks of paid parental leave in connection with the birth or adoption of a child.
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Another provision of the proposed settlement commits AT&T to hire 3,000 people in the five-state region to replace positions, the majority of which are located offshore.
Marty Richter, a spokeswoman for AT&T, said specific decisions about those jobs will be made “as we work through and evaluate the needs of our business — we will consider all areas of our operations in the Southwest and place them where it makes the most sense.”
Richter said the return of offshore jobs “is not a typical part of a labor agreement” but is “an example of what can be achieved when the sides work together, and we appreciate the work of the CWA’s Southwest leadership team to make this possible.”
CWA vice president Claude Cummings said he was “extremely proud of the work accomplished by our bargaining committee and very grateful for the job they have done for our members.”
AT&T said that if this agreement is adopted, it will be the 19th labor contract reached in 2016 and 2017, covering more than 81,000 employees.
“We’re a union-friendly company, with more full-time, union-represented employees than any company in America,” Richter said. “We’re the only major wireless company with a unionized workforce, and we added wireless union jobs last year.”
AT&T last year hired nearly 20,000 people into union-represented jobs nationally, and it currently has 4,200 union-represented job openings, Richter said.