Standoff between AT&T and CWA continues

AT&T doesn’t appear to be any closer to striking a deal with tens of thousands of employees than it was 10 days ago, when a temporary strike forced the weekend closure of hundreds of its retail stores.

Nearly 40,000 AT&T employees walked off the job during a three-day strike more than a week ago, shuttering stores in New York, Los Angeles, Denver and dozens of other cities. The move marked the first significant strike by AT&T’s wireless workers, although other employees of the company were also involved.

The standoff continues between the nation’s second-largest mobile network operator and the Communications Workers of America. AT&T said last week it had come to terms with 5,000 wireline employees in Illinois and Indiana in a separate labor matter.

The carrier continues to negotiate with the CWA, AT&T spokesman Marty Richter said, and “remain(s) committed to reaching fair agreements that will allow us to continue to provide solid union careers with excellent wages and benefits … (W)e’re offering generous terms including annual wage increases, as well as comprehensive healthcare benefits, similar to what other employees across the country have ratified in other contracts.”

The union has argued that AT&T generates “nearly $1 billion a month in profits.” It posted a $3.56 billion first-quarter profit this year, and is “failing to invest in its core business and infrastructure” as it outsources and moves jobs offshore.

The CWA alleged that AT&T has cut 12,000 call center jobs in the United States since 2011, opting instead to contract with third-party companies in other countries.

The CWA was involved in a 45-day strike last year by 40,000 Verizon wireline workers that ended in June. That stoppage slowed Verizon’s network investment slightly during the second quarter, according to analysts, and ended with agreements that a union representative described as “an incredible victory” for the workers. AT&T reportedly hasn’t suffered a significant work stoppage since a two-day walkout in 2012.

This article was updated May 31 to include comments from the CWA.