Management demands for cuts in pay and outsourcing of jobs forced 21,000 Communications Workers of America members who work for AT&T Wireless to take a strike authorization vote in early February.
The old contract expired Feb. 11, and the strike authorization passed, with 93 percent support.
The contract covers AT&T call center employees in Minnesota, who are members of CWA Local 7200, and workers at 27 retail stores in Minnesota, who are members of CWA Local 7250. Together, CWA Local 7200 and Local 7250 represent about 600 AT&T members in Minnesota.
Talks continued beyond the contract expiration, then recessed in mid-February so the union’s bargainers “can comb through the piles of data” AT&T Wireless provided, CWA explained.
That recess also gave AT&T Wireless workers time “to ramp up mobilization” of members and supporters. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson was bombarded with e-mails and phone calls demanding he settle fairly with the union.
Key issues include company takeback demands. One would cut paid sick days from 10 to five. Another would increase worker share of health insurance costs by 32 percent.
“The union and company remain miles apart on all major issues,” the CWA’s 13-person bargaining team reported in mid-month. “The company continues to make greedy and retrogressive demands despite their huge profits. The union will not accept these demands and the discussions have become more contentious over the last several days.
“The union is here to get a fair contract, and with the continued backing of the membership, we will win!” they declared.