Over the weekend, AT&T (NYSE:T, news, filings) and unions representing tens of thousands of workers passed a deadline without a new contract. For now, the unions and the company are still negotiating and the workers will still be working according to a Reuters report. The main area of dispute is who pays how much for healthcare, which will come as a surprise to exactly nobody.
Just a year ago, the unions and AT&T were amazingly singing in harmony, as AT&T’s proposed purchase of non-union-shop T-MobileUSA would have swelled the unions’ membership rolls substantially. Actually, AT&T claimed US jobs as a whole would benefit, but nobody believe that except their lobbyists. The collapse of that merger in the face of regulatory opposition ended that unholy alliance, and the two sides are obviously now back in their usual seats. But will things actually escalate into an actual strike?
It’s an election year, so who the heck knows. According to reports, some progress was made over the weekend but it’s hard to tell how meaningful. I don’t get the feeling either side is particularly inflexible right now, so perhaps everyone will be reasonable enough to avoid war. Last summer we saw a strike hit Verizon that went on for two weeks, and they’re still negotiating the details of the settlement there.
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