Denver Direct: Colorado telecommunications workers watch contract talks

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Colorado telecommunications workers watch contract talks

Dave Felice
exclusive comments for Denver Direct, a union leader in Denver
says the situation is “dicey” regarding contract negotiations between the
Communications Workers of America and AT&T.
wouldn’t take the strike option off the table at this point,” says Bill
Domgaard, President of CWA Local 7750. 
Domgaard’s Local represents about 240 AT&T workers in the metro Denver
area and a total of about 400 throughout Colorado
and Wyoming.
to Domgaard, “the company started (the negotiations) by trying to take us back
50 years and erase all the progress the union has made.”  He says that progress includes better health
care, pensions, and job security.
about 40,000 union AT&T employees continue to work without a contract,
while negotiators try to reach agreement. 
The possibility of a strike remains after the contract expired over the
weekend (April 7).  Employees of the
company’s cellular operations, AT&T Mobility, are covered by a separate
labor agreement. 
criticize company officials for complaining about rising costs while AT&T
Chief Executive Randall Stephenson got $27.3 million in compensation for
2011.  Stephenson also got a $7.8 million
dollar bonus this year, in spite of the company’s loss of $4.2 million on a
failed bid to buy the T-Mobile wireless operations.  Speaking for Denver Direct, one worker put it
bluntly, saying “company officials are a bunch of greedy bastards.”  Overall, AT&T had a profit of $4 billion
in 2011.
difficulties in AT&T negotiations follow a continuing lack of contract
agreement between the CWA and Verizon, another large telecommunications
firm.  Employees of Verizon have been
working without a contract for several months.
of CWA District 7, based in Denver,
are watching developments closely.  The
contract between CWA and CenturyLink expires October 6.
without a contract, AT&T employees have the same wages and benefits as they
had under the expired agreement, with the exception of binding arbitration on
grievances.  If no settlement is reached,
the union has authorization to call a strike.
include health care costs and the ability of workers to transfer to another
location if they are laid off.  AT&T
says workers should bear more of the health care costs.  The company is also trying to slash costs of
its diminishing business in wired telephones.
years ago, agreement on the latest contract followed an extension of
negotiations.  AT&T, based in Dallas,
has the country’s largest union workforce. 
Over half of the company’s 256,000 employees are represented by a union.