AT&T, Union Continue Negotiations After Contracts Expire

AT&T Inc. and the Communications Workers of America continued talks on new labor contracts as current agreements covering more than 24,000 employees in the southeast U.S. expired.

CWA leaders want concessions from the largest U.S. phone company on job security, health-care costs and working conditions, including better policies on forced overtime. On Friday, the union called on AT&T to “get serious about bargaining a fair contract.”

“The parties have agreed to continue negotiating,” Marty Richter, a spokesman for AT&T, said Sunday in an e-mailed statement. “We remain confident that both parties will work conscientiously and in good faith toward a suitable agreement.”

The contracts expired at 11:59 p.m. Saturday night in Atlanta, spokesmen for both sides said. Bargaining began in June, with the primary contract covering AT&T’s landline workers in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

While 95 percent of CWA’s members voted to authorize leaders to call a strike, AT&T employees in other regions this year continued to work without a contract while negotiations carried on.

“We’re going to keep our fight for a fair contract going while we stay on the job,” Richard Honeycutt, CWA District 3 vice president, said in an Aug. 8 statement.

The CWA also is negotiating with Verizon Communications Inc. on a new agreement covering landline employees in the eastern U.S. The Verizon employees have been working without a contract since it expired Aug. 1. The negotiations also include the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

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