AT & T, union reach tentative contract deal

Thu, 07/16/2009 - 8:05am
Peter Svensson, AP Technology Writer

NEW YORK (AP) – AT&T Inc. and its largest union have tentatively agreed on a new contract for 18,500 employees in the Midwest.

Leaders of the Communications Workers of America, which has gone three months without a contract, reached the deal after nearly five months of negotiations with AT&T. Union members will vote on it in the next few days.

The Dallas-based phone company is still negotiating with the union in four other districts and will start on a fifth one soon. Together, those talks cover nearly 100,000 workers. In addition, AT&T is negotiating with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in the Midwest, representing about 8,900 workers.

AT&T spokesman Walt Sharp said the proposed three-year contract with the CWA district covering Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin and Indiana provides for wage increases of 3 percent for each of the first two years and 2.75 percent for the last.

The CWA said the deal "safeguards" health benefits, which had been a sticking point in the talks. Sharp said employees "will be assuming some responsibility for costs for premiums, deductibles and coinsurance."

"I am pleased to have reached an agreement that achieves our key goals," CWA District 4 vice president Seth Rosen said.

The workers are in AT&T's wireline business, which has been shrinking, in contrast to the growing wireless business.

AT&T shares were up 39 cents, or 1.7 percent, at $23.84 in afternoon trading.

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