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New AT&T job security plans.

New AT&T job security plans

Negotiators for AT&T and its two major unions, the Communications Workers and Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, ended a collective bargaining standoff recently with agreement on a 3-year labor contract covering approximately 125,000 workers nationwide.

In addition to wage and benefit increases, the contract called for the company to enhance job security and remain neutral during organizing drives in exchange for recognition by the unions of the company's need to operate its individual business units separately and become more competitive. In a break from their traditional bargaining strategy, the unions agreed to a new bargaining approach, negotiating economic issues, such as wages and benefits, on a national level, and noneconomic issues, such as working conditions and work rules, on a local level.

Major sticking points during the talks reportedly involved the company's proposals to peg employment reductions to technical skills the company needs rather than seniority. (During the last 3 years, AT&T slashed its work force by 36,000 and expects to make further cutbacks.)

AT&T also wanted to impose a sales commission pay system for phone center and commercial marketing employees.

The new contract provides some job security measures the unions sought while allowing AT&T some relief in cutting jobs based on skill needs. The enhancements in job security include:

* Closer monitoring of the system to transfer adversely affected workers;

* Access for laid off employees to jobs at three AT&T subsidiaries, Universal Credit Card, American Transtech, and Paradyne;

* Establishment of the Re-Link program, in which employees AT&T classifies as surplus may receive termination pay and benefits and seniority for up to 2 years. At the same time, the employees will have access to the transfer system to gain new permanent jobs and have first call on temporary jobs, and surplus telephone operators will receive an additional 6 months of pay and medical benefits if they have not found new permanent jobs when their fight to termination pay ends;

* Establishment of the AT&T Rehire System, which provides employees on layoff and recall the first fight to new jobs for 3 years;

* Preservation of seniority rights in layoffs of communication technicians and system technicians;

* Expedited arbitration of subcontracting disputes; and

* A pledge by AT&T tO be neutral in the unions' organizing attempts and to provide the unions access to company premises and to workers at the company's subsidiaries (except NCR) and newly acquired business units--with disputes over organizing activities subject to "immediate" arbitration.

Other terms include wage increases of 4 percent in the first year and 3.9 percent in the second and third years; a 13'percent increase in pension benefits over the term; a ban on secret monitoring of workers; several improvements in family care provisions, including an increase (to $7.5 million) in AT&T'S contribution to the Family Care Fund, expansion of eider care and adoption programs, and enhancements in extended benefits for family or child care leave; an increase, from $40 million to $80 million, in funding for the parties' jointly administered training fund; a guarantee of 40 hours of job-related training annually for each employee; a phase-in of a commission payment system for phone center and commercial marketing workers, with cash payment to Iong-term employees to cushion adverse impacts of the new payment system; a phase out of the current profit-sharing plan, with guaranteed payments of $1,500 in AT&T stock in September 1992 and $1,800 in September 1994; and improvements in dental and vision care benefits.

"Developments in Industrial Relations" is prepared by Michael H. Cimini and Susan L. Behrmann of the Division of Developments in Labor-Management Relations, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and is based largely on information from secondary sources.
COPYRIGHT 1992 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Author:Cimini, Michael H.; Behrmann, Susan L.
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:Sep 1, 1992
Words:622
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