SBC & CWA Reach Agreement

100,000 return to work as CWA brokers 'tentative agreement' with SBC over employment, health, security, wages, and pensions

May 25, 2004

3 Min Read

WASHINGTON -- The Communications Workers of America reached a tentative 5-year agreement with SBC Communications that achieves the union's major objectives of strengthening employment security, including new access to jobs in the growth areas, protecting health security for both active employees and retirees, and improving wages and pensions.

The agreement came as 100,000 SBC workers returned to work today following a strike that began Friday, May 21. Subject to member ratification, the settlement covers workers in 13 states in SBC territory.

Among the highlights, the settlement guarantees that there will be no layoffs of employees currently on the payroll for the life of the agreement, and it calls for the rehiring of several hundred workers who had been laid off at SBC Southwest and SBC Midwest (former Southwestern Bell and Ameritech).

The pact gives union workers access to the jobs of the future at SBC in areas such as FTTP (Fiber to the Premise), Voice over Internet Protocol, Wireless Internet, video services and business data services. CWA and SBC agreed to work together to bring back tech support jobs from overseas when the current outsourcing agreement with Accenture expires.

"This agreement helps ensure that American workers and their communities benefit from the promise of new information technology jobs," said CWA President Morton Bahr. The settlement provides access and opportunity for members as they move from traditional telecom work to the new technologies of the industry, he noted.

The agreement provides that health care benefits continue to be fully paid by SBC, a major union goal in the talks. There are some increases in co-payments for medical services and prescription drugs. To help offset these higher costs, active employees will receive cash bonuses of $1,000 and retirees, who are now under a different plan from active workers, will receive $2,500.

The parties agreed to across-the-board base wage increases totaling 12 percent, compounded, plus an additional 1 percent lump sum in the first year and cost-of-living-adjustments in the fourth and fifth years. The initial wage increase is retroactive to April 4.

Pensions will increase 13 percent over the contract term, and the cash balance pension plan for SBC East (SNET) employees is substantially improved.

A contract successorship clause stipulates that any sale of phone lines by SBC be predicated upon the buyer assuming the existing contract.

The previous contracts expired in early April, but remained in effect as negotiations continued until May 19, when CWA gave SBC its 24-hour notice of intent to terminate the contract and strike.

Bargaining took place at regional tables in New Haven, Conn., Chicago, Austin, Tex., and Pleasanton, Calif.

The thirteen states are Connecticut, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Texas, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, California and Nevada.

Communications Workers of America (CWA)

SBC Communications Inc.

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