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Early outs at AT&T.

In response to actual and planned layoffs, the American Telephone and Telegraph Co. (AT&T) and its two largest unions, the Communication Workers and Electrical Workers (IBEW), agreed to an enhanced early retirement plan that reportedly almost doubles (to 34,000) the number of unionized workers eligible for such benefits. AT&T has some 165,400 unionized employees worldwide. Communication Workers and Electrical Workers represent about 135,000 of AT&T's work force. Under the early retirement plan, 3 years would be added to an employee's age and years of service in calculating both pension eligibility and retirement benefits. In addition, the plan allows some individual AT&T units to offer greater retirement incentives to nonmanagement employees where there is excess personnel, including adding 5 years of both age and service in calculating eligibility and benefits and a 15percent "sweetener" (increase) to pension benefits.

Reflecting on the bittersweet nature of the agreement, Morton Bahr, Communication Workers president, characterized it as "a very mixed blessing." He added, "It is a sad statement that workers in their late forties and early fifties can only look forward to pension enhancements, when they should have so many years of productive work ahead of them." Bahr said the unions requested AT&T to liberalize pension eligibility requirements "to help ease the unrelenting pain of those workers who face AT&T's continual downsizing." (AT&T expects to lay off some 9,000 workers in 1990.)

The current plan follows a similar early retirement package offered AT&T management personnel last year. Under that plan, each eligible manager opting to retire early had 5 years added to his or her age and tenure, plus 15 percent to pension benefits for up to 5 years.
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Title Annotation:Developments in industrial relations; collective labor agreement on early retirement vs. layoffs
Author:Cimini, Michael H.
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:Jul 1, 1990
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