AT&T (NYSE:T, news, filings) made a public offer to some 27,000 members of the CWA - about a quarter of those involved - calling it the carrier's 'last, best, final offer.' The union did not exactly respond with glee, obviously, firing off an angry response. This sounds to me like an escalation of hostilities. It has been 6 weeks now since the last deadline passed yet talks continued. It does not appear that all that much has been resolved since then, the two sides remain far apart on a host of issues. So what next? One has to figure that with AT&T and the union making such public noises that they have little more to say in private. So the chances of a strike probably have gone up substantially.
I still don't think any strike would be a long one, even if both sides are willing to go the distance can anyone imagine the Obama administration not stepping in at some point? They won't let another sector of the economy go spinning out of control right now. The union probably knows this as well, and I think the main reason they are still at the table is that they must look like they tried and had no choice. AT&T's 'last, best, final offer' may prompt a similar public ultimatum from the CWA, and this time the deadline will probably be a real one.
On the other hand, I don't see AT&T with that much leverage right now. Maybe when the CWA gives in slightly for its own 'last, final, best' offer they will just take it. Wishful thinking perhaps. I don't have a dog in this hunt, but I really would prefer that a strike be averted - there's enough turmoil out there already.
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