U.S. wireless carrier AT&T has come to a new tentative agreement with union leaders after Communications Workers of America (CWA) members last month rejected a benefits contract covering more than 40,000 AT&T Mobility workers.
AT&T said the new contract focuses on employee benefits, including healthcare. Wages, pension and work rules for union-represented Mobility employees are negotiated under separate contracts, the carrier said.
According to the CWA, the new contract features reduced premium costs for approximately 20,000 employees hired after 2014; lower rates for employees with dependent children and no covered spouse; lower contribution rates for employees in Puerto Rico to take part in popular HMO plans; and a new “Option 2” plan with lower premium costs.
In negotiating the contract, CWA District 1 Vice President Dennis Trainor said the union “accomplished our main goal, which was to put health care benefits bargaining back in the regional bargaining agreement process and to make health care affordable for all Mobility workers.”
A ratification vote for the new contract will be held over the next several weeks, the CWA said.
The news follows a vote from union members last month to reject the previously negotiated benefits contract with AT&T. The CWA at the time did not provide figures related to the vote.
The introduction of a new contract to union members less than a month later, however, will likely ease fears of a strike by AT&T workers akin to that staged by Verizon workers earlier this year.
In April, nearly 40,000 Verizon workers began a seven-week strike following 10 months of failed negotiations between union leadership and the carrier. The acrimonious and drawn-out nature of the strike led U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez to step in and facilitate final negotiations. A four-year agreement between the CWA and Verizon was reached at the end of May.