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Union reaches tentative agreement with AT&T East

By Kimberly Drelich

Publication: theday.com

Published May 11. 2013 5:00PM   Updated May 11. 2013 11:59PM

The Communications Workers of America has struck a tentative four-year contract with AT&T East that would lead to wage increases, expanded pension benefits and enhanced 401(k) plans for employees, according to a news announcement Friday night.

The union reaching the agreement, Communications Workers of America Local 1298 in Hamden, represents about 3,200 workers in the state, including linemen and commercial marketers.

The benefits would include: more than 10.85 percent in raises over three years; layoff protection for employees hired between July 1, 2004, and April 8, 2012; decreased financial contributions for health care for employees hired in 2012 but an increase for others; an improved 401(k) plan; a $350 ratification bonus; and pension interest of at least 4 percent per year credited to employees, according to a news release.

Specifically, a 5 percent raise in base wages would be effective in mid-June, a 3 percent increase would be effective August 2014, and a 2.5 percent increase would be effective August 2015. In addition, "premise technicians" who operate the company's "U-Verse" product would receive a one-time wage increase of 55 cents per hour.

The contract is the result of 18 months of bargaining. Thousands of workers in the state went on strike last August in protest of issues, including health care costs and a loss of sick leave. An AT&T spokesman, Marty Richter, told The Day at the time that the company had been negotiating since late February 2012.

"We are pleased to bring these negotiations to a conclusion after many challenging months at the bargaining table," said Dennis Trainor, assistant to the vice president of CWA District One and chairman of CWA's Bargaining Committee. "The agreement includes significant improvements in wages, pensions and job security."

The contract, which union members will vote on in three weeks, would date retroactively from April 2012 to April 2016, the release stated.

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