SBC Strike Set for Friday

Communications workers set strike at SBC involving 100,000 workers at midnight tomorrow

May 19, 2004

3 Min Read

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Communications Workers of America announced that a 4-day strike involving 100,000 union employees of SBC in 13 states will begin at 12:01 a.m. local time in each time zone on Friday, May 21. Workers will return to their jobs at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, May 25.

Among key issues in the contract dispute, CWA members are seeking to strengthen their employment security, including gaining access to new jobs in growth areas of the company, and to preserve their health care benefits in the face of substantial cost-shifting demands by SBC management.

National bargaining that has been taking place between the parties in Washington, D.C. over health care, wages, pensions and employment security will cease, and these issues will now be referred back to the four regional tables in New Haven, Conn., Chicago, Austin, Tex., and Pleasanton, Calif.

"We appreciate the hard work of Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Director Peter Hurtgen in helping us try to work out an agreement on these issues, but unfortunately these efforts have failed to achieve a settlement," said CWA President Morton Bahr.

"We are making this a limited job action right now to drive it home to SBC that our members are serious about securing their future at SBC," said Bahr. "We know that a prolonged strike could cause a loss of major customers and do significant damage to the company, and hopefully that can be avoided."

CWA also is ratcheting up other mobilization activities in the field and is being supported by the AFL-CIO and other major unions in mounting a carrier-switch campaign that potentially could shift substantial business from SBC to another union carrier, AT&T, which operates in 11 of the SBC states. AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Rich Trumka personally is spearheading carrier-switch efforts aimed at labor organizations and the 5 million union families who are SBC customers. Customers are being asked to give CWA their "proxy" to implement a carrier switch if the union deems it necessary.

CWA members, who have lost 29,000 jobs at SBC over the past three years, are seeking access to the new growth jobs in Internet data services, installation of Wi-Fi hotspots, voice over the Internet (VOIP), DSL broadband and other areas. Virtually all of this SBC work, amounting to thousands of jobs, is being outsourced, including going offshore to countries such as India and the Philippines.

"SBC continues to refuse to give this work to our members, the frontline workers who have built SBC into the nation's most profitable telecom company," said Bahr. SBC's profits last year were more than $8 billion.

CWA also noted that SBC's latest bargaining proposal called for members to receive no base wage increase upon settlement, but instead receive a one-time lump sum payment of 4 percent. A cash payment instead of a 3 percent base wage increase equates to a savings to SBC of more than $1 billion over four years.

"Incredibly, SBC wants to take $1 billion out of our members' pockets in wages, not to pay for rising health costs, but just to fatten its profits. At the same time, SBC is still demanding that workers also start paying tens of millions more out of pocket for their health care," Bahr stated.

Negotiations began in mid-February. These contracts cover SBC workers in Connecticut, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Arkansas, Missouri, Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, California and Nevada.


Subscribe and receive the latest news from the industry.
Join 62,000+ members. Yes it's completely free.

You May Also Like