AT&T dodges strike… for now; CWA says sides 'far apart'

AT&T (NYSE: T), which was facing the possibility of a strike by 40,000 wireline union employees at midnight Sunday, has bought a little time, agreeing with the Communications Workers of America to extend talks.

Union workers in the Northeast, West and Midwest last week had authorized their leadership to strike if talks failed to reach an agreement, but now the workers will continue to work under the old contract while the two sides continue to negotiate.

AT&T wants the CWA to let it collect more from members for health care premiums, charge higher co-pays and cut benefits. The concessions are similar to demands Verizon is making of its union workers, moves that led the Verizon (NYSE: VZ) employees to strike for two weeks in August.

Saturday, the CWA said the pace of negotiations with AT&T were "slow and frustrating," adding that the two sides remained "far apart.

An AT&T spokesman said the telco was "committed to continuing to work together with the union to bargain a contact."

For more:
- see this WSJ report

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