BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - The Communication Workers of America union has reached an agreement with AT&T, meaning thousands of workers across the southeast will return to work Wednesday.
Glenn Posey with CWA Local 3519 in South Mississippi tells WLOX that the agreement with AT&T was reached around 3 a.m. and that employees will return to work immediately.
A statement by CWA District 3, which includes the Mississippi Gulf Coast’s local chapter along with numerous others throughout the southeast, was posted on the organization’s website early Wednesday morning. It states:
CWA has notified AT&T management that we are ending the unfair labor practice strike and have agreed to return to work. The strike is over, effective immediately. Bargaining unit employees at AT&T Southeast, Utility Operations, and AT&T Billing are expected to return to work at 1:00 P.M. ET/12:00 P.M CT today, Wednesday August 28. Even if in the middle of their tour, employees should return to work at 1:00 P.M. ET/12:00 P.M. CT today.
District 3 leadership and the bargaining team appreciate the spirit and solidarity shown by your protest against the company’s unfair labor practices over the last 4 days. The company saw how seriously you and your members took the protest and that you would not stop until they bargained with us in good faith. Your actions will never be forgotten by us or by your brothers and sisters across the country.
More than 20,000 workers in the southeast went on strike at midnight Friday, with the CWA accused AT&T of bargaining in bad faith and engaging in unfair labor practices.
The strikers were primarily technicians and customer service representatives in nine states, including several on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
On Monday and Tuesday, workers on strike were scattered across South Mississippi, standing on the sides of busy roadways with picket signs. WLOX talked with Posey Tuesday as a group carried signs near a work site on Pass Road in Biloxi, who told us the workers were demanding better benefits.
“We want to let them know this is not about money," said Posey. “We are fighting for benefits to get people better insurance and the sick days they say we have, we want to be able to use those days... We want to be able to use them; if you say we have them, give us the opportunity to use them.”
The CWA’s four-year contract with the company expired on August 3. Union members have said they are most concerned about rising healthcare costs as well as job security.
A complaint by CWA alleging bad faith was filed with the National Labors Relation Board, arguing that AT&T - which has $170 billion a year in revenues - sent negotiators who didn’t have the authority to forge a deal.
Negotiations continued Monday and Tuesday, with union leaders and the communications giant coming to an agreement in the early hours of Wednesday.