CWA members authorize strike of AT&T

Members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) at AT&T West and AT&T Midwest authorized their union to call a strike if contract negotiations don’t bear fruit by the end of this Saturday, April 7.

Members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) at AT&T West and AT&T Midwest authorized their union to call a strike if contract negotiations don’t bear fruit by the end of this Saturday, April 7.

AT&T West represents about 18,000 effected workers in California, Nevada, and Hawaii/ AT&T Midwest represents an additional 15,000 employees in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Ninety-three percent of the AT&T West membership voted to approve authorization, as did 92 percent of their Midwest counterparts.

Primary sticking points in negotiating for a new deal to replace the current contract, which expires at the end of Saturday, involve healthcare costs and job protection, according to press reports.

“Even in these difficult economic times, in a constantly changing industry, AT&T is a very successful and profitable company. CWA believes that AT&T West has a responsibility to support our communities by being a leader for economic growth. That means continuing to provide good, middle class jobs and not taking the low road of outsourcing, layoffs and cost shifting in order to meet competitive challenges,” said CWA District 9 Vice President Jim Weitkamp via a press release.

The strike authorization does not guarantee a work stoppage if a deal can’t be reached by the Saturday night deadline. However, it gives union negotiators additional leverage.

Workers at Verizon walked off their jobs for two weeks last year in similar circumstances before their new contracts could be hammered out. The carrier reported several acts of sabotage during the job action (see “Verizon: Number of strike sabotage acts exceeds 90”).

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