New Jersey employees negotiate with AT&T over contract
Almost 500 New Jersey AT&T employees may go on strike if a contract dispute is not resolved. There are four contracts at issue, involving mostly technicians and building support staff. The Communications Workers of America agreed to authorize the strike. The employees are operating without a contract until a deal is reached, making contractual enforcement tenuous at best for the time being.
AT&T says it has plenty of other employees to cover the positions. A spokesperson for the company said that managers and vendors could step in on a contingency basis. AT&T also reports it has been planning for a work stoppage for two years now.
The union organizing the potential strike has several complaints about the proposed contract. They include a new three-tier pension structure, how much employees are asked to contribute to their healthcare plans, and the number of jobs being sent overseas.
AT&T counters that it produces a significant number of jobs that pay well and that its goal is to do whatever it to protect the careers of its employees. The company also said it is committed to reaching a fair deal but one flexible enough to allow it to compete in the industry.
While the contracts involved hundreds of employees, some of the most sensitive contracts are written for individual employees. They not only contain information about salary and benefits, but also many other vital clauses such non-compete agreements and severance plans.
With such high stakes for either side, it seems likely that both AT&T and the union will have expert negotiators to help them work through the contract intricacies. As AT&T certainly knows, an employment contract can have long-lasting effects.
Source: NJ.com, " AT&T union avoids strike as contract talks go on," April 9, 2012