Communication Workers of America return to work following strike

An agreement has been reached with the Communications Workers of America and AT&T, and that means that thousands of workers across the southeast are returning to work.

The negotiations began around 3 a.m. Wednesday morning and employees went back to work at 1 p.m.

CWA posted an announcement on their website that states:

“CWA has notified AT&T management that we are ending the unfair labor practice strike and have agreed to return to work. The strike is over, effective immediately. Bargaining unit employees at AT&T Southeast, Utility Operations, and AT&T Billing are expected to return to work at 1:00 p.m. ET/ (noon) CT, Wednesday Aug. 28. Even if in the middle of their tour, employees should return to work at 1:00 p.m. ET/(noon) CT (Wednesday).

“District 3 leadership and the bargaining team appreciate the spirit and solidarity shown by your protest against the company’s unfair labor practices over the last four days. The company saw how seriously you and your members took the protest and that you would not stop until they bargained with us in good faith. Your actions will never be forgotten by us or by your brothers and sisters across the country.”

The strike began at midnight on Friday with more than 20,000 workers with the CWA in the southeast accusing AT&T of engaging in unfair labor practices.

Those on strike were primarily technicians and customer service representatives in nine states, including workers from Middlesboro.

On Monday and Tuesday, workers on strike were seen standing on the sides of busy roadways with picket signs.

The CWA’s four-year contract with the company expired on Aug. 3. Union members have said they are most concerned about rising health care costs as well as job security.

According to an employee on strike who asked not to be named, the strike was not about money, it was about better benefits and insurance. It was also about sick days and employees being able to use those and being given the opportunity to use them.

The CWA filed a complaint with the National Labors Relation Board alleging bad faith and argued that AT&T sent negotiators who didn’t have the authority to forge a deal.

Negotiations continued into Monday and Tuesday between union leaders and the massive communications group that finally came to an agreement in the early hours of Wednesday.