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AT&T West reaches tentative agreement with workers

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Damian Dovarganes/AP

The president of an L.A.-based union under CWA said under the new agreement, AT&T U-verse technicians would receive higher pay, but it's still not equal to their counterparts at Verizon.

AT&T West reached a tentative agreement with thousands of workers on Monday, ending the threat of a strike.

The Communications Workers of America, which represented the unionized employees, said the new agreement has a 10.5 percent wage increase over four years. Originally, the company had offered a raise of more than 8 percent over 14 months.

The agreement also gives an additional pay raise for U-verse technicians and increases pension funding by one percent per year.  

“Our members sent a strong message to AT&T management that real improvements had to be negotiated,” said Jim Weitkamp, the CWA’s District 9 vice president. The CWA represents roughly 18,000 AT&T West employees in California and Nevada in positions from call center employees to U-verse technicians.

AT&T said it was pleased the two sides could work out a “very fair agreement.”

“Our goal throughout these negotiations has been to preserve high quality middle class careers for our employees and this agreement does that,” said AT&T spokesman Marty Richter.

But not everyone in the union was entirely happy with the agreement. T. Santora, president of an L.A.-based union under CWA, said under the new agreement, U-verse technicians would receive higher pay, but it's still not equal to their counterparts at Verizon.

“I think AT&T is still taking advantage of folks,” Santora said. “They are making huge profits.”

The tentative agreement was recommended unanimously by the union's bargaining committee, according to the CWA. Union members will vote on the agreement and their ballots will be counted on May 1. In order for the agreement to be finalized, it will need a majority of the voting members' approval.

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