17,000 striking AT&T workers head back to work
By Jackie Wattles
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — AT&T union workers went back to work Thursday, one day after 17,000 employees in California and Nevada walked off the job.
The union, the Communications Workers of America, said the workers were protesting the fact that AT&T “recently made a unilateral change in job requirements [for landline technicians] without the agreement of the union.”
Company spokesperson Marty Richter said the two parties came to an agreement after marathon talks Wednesday.
“We engaged in discussion with the union to get these employees back to work as soon as possible,” Richter said.
The strike did not include workers in AT&T’s wireless department. It only involved landline technicians in California and Nevada.
Those employees have been working for nearly a year under expired contract terms, and the strike was a means of gaining leverage in ongoing negotiations, the union said.
CWA said last week that the company has refused to “bargain fairly.”
The union is also angry that AT&T has cut thousands of landline technician and call center jobs in the region in recent years. Elected officials in both states took up the issue by sending a letter to AT&T CEO Randall Stephensen, the CWA said last week.
The letter says the company is “harming communities by cutting thousands of good, middle-class jobs.” It also accuses AT&T of dragging its feet on promises to provide high-speed internet throughout rural communities in California and Nevada.
A merger deal between AT&T and CNN parent company Time Warner is currently under review by regulatory authorities.