After almost five months of negotiations, AT&T and the Communications Workers of America announced Wednesday that they have reached a tentative agreement in the contract negotiations covering approximately 18,500 employees in the telco's Midwest region.
The contract expired on April 4 and the union employees have worked under the terms of the expired contract, while negotiations continued. The deal will be submitted to the CWA district's membership for a ratification vote in coming days. The CWA Midwest region covers employees in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio.
AT&T and the CWA are still negotiating contracts for other regions where contracts expired on April 4, including East, West and Southwest. A total of about 120,000 employees are covered under the various contracts.
For the Midwest region, the three-year proposed agreement includes pay and pension band increases in each year of the agreement, as well as provisions addressing cost of living adjustments, CWA and AT&T said in a joint statement. The health-care plan in the contract provides for fully funded preventive care and company-funded health reimbursement accounts that can be used toward any eligible health-care expense.
In a statement, AT&T chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson said, "We're pleased to have reached a fair and balanced tentative agreement that keeps our core wireline wages and benefits among the best in the nation, while helping to control costs and preserving our ability to compete. These were tough negotiations in difficult economic times and amidst major changes in our wireline business. I am grateful to the representatives of the CWA and AT&T who have worked so hard to achieve this goal."
CWA president Larry Cohen said the agreement "maintains our members' standard of living and safeguards quality health care benefits, which is critical to the well-being of all families. It's important now to move forward in the remaining negotiations and resolve our outstanding issues. I'm pleased that AT&T will continue to work with us and others on comprehensive health care reform so that companies like AT&T that provide quality health care are no longer penalized in this country."