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Behind AT&T’s Labor Agreements

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Dec. 4 2020, Updated 10:53 a.m. ET

CWA labor agreement finalized

In January, AT&T (T) announced that its CWA (Communications Workers of America) represented employees approved the labor agreement it had reached with the workers back in December. The agreement is for four years and covers over 20,000 employees in its AT&T Mobility unit in 36 states and the District of Columbia. The four-year contract includes better pay, healthcare, and retirement benefits as well as job security.

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AT&T’s agreement with the more than 20,000 CWA-represented AT&T Mobility employees came after more than a year of negotiations, where disagreements sometimes played out in public. In May 2017, for instance, thousands of AT&T’s CWA-represented workers dwent on strike for several days amid a contract negotiations impasse.

Over 32 labor agreements signed

AT&T’s December deal with CWA-represented employees brought the number of labor agreements the company had signed since 2015 to 32 with the agreements covering more than 165,000 employees. These include agreements with 280 CWA-represented former employees of DIRECTV in Maryland, Oregon, Delaware, and New Mexico. AT&T also reached a tentative four-year labor agreement with its Southwest wireline workforce in a deal covering 20,000 employees.

AT&T’s industry peers such as Verizon (VZ), Frontier Communications (FTR), and CenturyLink (CTL) have also had negotiations of their own with labor unions in recent years.

Investing in stability

Since labor strikes can derail operations and lead to loss of revenues and profits, AT&T’s labor agreements can be understood as the company investing in the stability of its business. AT&T posted a net profit of $19 billion in 4Q17, while Verizon and T-Mobile (TMUS) reported net profits of $18.7 billion and $2.7 billion, respectively, in the quarter. Sprint recorded a net profit of $7.2 billion in 4Q17.

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