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AT&T draws a line in the sand for CWA union negotiations

Is AT&T is putting its foot down with the Communications Workers of America (CWA)?  The company issued a statement on May 13 saying that it has provided a “last, best and final offer” for contracts covering wireline employees in the CWA District 6, comprised of the states of Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas and Texas.

AT&T notes that bargaining continues in all other regions – West (CWA District 9), East (CWA District 1), Midwest (CWA District 4) and Legacy AT&T Corp. (CWA ComTech), but the “last, best and final offer” to District 6 is likely to have ripple affects across the other bargaining tables.

As part of its campaign to win over the support of rank-and-file union employees, AT&T is providing a wage and benefits calculator online (www.att.com/corebargaining); the company says that “virtually all” of its employees covered in the Southwest will see a positive financial impact under the offer.

AT&T is “hopeful” that the offer will be taken to employees for a vote. As of posting time, CWA didn’t have comment, but there’s likely to be something out from either District 6 or CWA shortly.

But is this really the “last, best and final offer?” Or is this simply a negotiating tactic for AT&T? In theory, the company could lockout union workers since they don’t have a contract. How well such a lockout would go over with the current administration and the media is unknown.

For its part, CWA has been quietly and not-so-quietly engaging in a variety of tactics at the workplace, with the media and with AT&T partners to raise awareness of the current deadlocked contract talks. CWA workers have resorted to “work to rule” tactics and hourly noisemaking sessions on the job and have said they will try to talk to Apple Store employees on the goodness of union organizations.

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