Tentative agreement with AT&T creates good-paying union jobs

A new tentative agreement between the Communication Workers of America District 6 (CWA) and AT&T creates 3000 new good-paying union jobs.

The tentative agreement covers 20,000 AT&T union workers in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas.

Most of the 3000 new union jobs had previously been outsourced to other countries; others had been outsourced to US contractors who pay their workers less than union wages and benefits.

Union members must still ratify the tentative agreement. The union will hold a town hall teleconference on March 9 to provide details about the agreement to members.

A summary of the agreement is available on the CWA District 6 website.

The date of the ratification vote has yet to be scheduled.

In addition to creating 3000 new jobs, the new agreement raises pay by 10.75 percent over the next four years. Pay increases by 3 percent in 2017, 2.5 percent in 2018, 3 percent in 2019, and 2.25 percent in 2020.

Pay increases are offset somewhat by increased worker health care costs. According to the union, take home pay will increase despite the higher health care costs.

The tentative agreement also includes for the first time two weeks of paid leave for parents to bond with a new born or adopted child. Mothers will continue to receive six weeks of paid leave after the birth of a child.

The 3000 new jobs are largely call center jobs that had been outsourced abroad.

Bringing these jobs back home bucks a trend. For years now, companies have been moving call center jobs abroad in order to reduce labor costs.

Outsourcing call center work hurts workers who lose their jobs and many others.

According to a report on call center offshoring published by CWA,

As US companies offshore and outsource call center jobs, communities lose. In many communities, the loss of a call center means the loss of a pillar of the local economy. In many cases, because of the intense pressure from cheaper, less regulated foreign operators, when companies export US jobs, they also exert downward pressure on wages and working conditions at home.

In hopes of reversing the offshoring trend in the call center industry, CWA is supporting the US Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act, which was introduced into both the US House of Representatives and Senate on March 2.

“This call center legislation is just common sense,” said Jennifer Szpara, a CWA member who works for Verizon. “It would help keep good call center jobs here in the US. It would give customers who are connected to an overseas call center the right to be transferred back to the US. And it would mean that companies that do send good jobs overseas wouldn’t be rewarded with taxpayer-funded grants and loans. It’s a win for customers, workers, our communities, and our employer.”