A new four-year contract covering more than 40,000 AT&T Mobility employees represented by the Communication Workers of America (CWA) failed to pass muster in a member vote, union officials said.
According to CWA, the rejected contract centered on employee benefits, including healthcare. The union negotiates contracts for wages, pension and work rules with AT&T separately, CWA said.
The contract, based on a tentative agreement between the CWA and AT&T in early June, included new healthcare coverage options for AT&T employees. The agreement would have offered AT&T employees four tiers of healthcare coverage for individuals, their spouses, children or whole family, a high deductible option and new options for members living in Puerto Rico. The agreement would have also charged employees who smoke a $50 per month surcharge and a $100 per month spouse surcharge for partners who are offered coverage elsewhere.
AT&T and CWA have agreed to head back to the bargaining table in an effort to reach a new agreement.
CWA representatives were not immediately available for comment.
The news comes on the heels of seven-week strike by nearly 40,000 Verizon wireline and wireless workers.
The strike began on April 13 after 10 months of failed contract negotiations between CWA representatives and Verizon, and lasted through the end of May. The bitter nature of the stalemate forced 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 two weeks after Perez intervened.
Members of the CWA and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) “overwhelmingly” ratified the new contract in mid-June.
In its releases, CWA has made no mention of an intent to strike over the AT&T benefit contract.
Back in April, CWA members ratified a separate four-year contract with AT&T covering more than 9,400 AT&T Mobility employees in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas. Details of that contract were not provided.