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Published:November 29th, 2007 06:52 EST
AT&T's relationship with its nearly 180,000 union members

AT&T's relationship with its nearly 180,000 union members

By SOP newswire

This telecommunications leader considers the relationship with its nearly 180,000 union members a competitive business advantage.

In cooperation with: CWA, IBEW, IBT, IFPTE

Balancing workers' rights and profitability

In 2006, one of the largest union workforces in the telecommunications industry and the private sector was born out of the AT&T, Bell South, and Cingular Wireless merger. The new AT&T employs nearly 180,000 union-represented men and women in the wireless, wireline, broadband, video, advertising, and publishing divisions of the company. While the post-merger transition is still underway, the company's relationship with its unions is on solid ground.

Collaboration with workers and their unions at AT&T is not a new concept. In 1986, they created a labor-management alliance to enhance employee growth and development. The alliance is still active, and currently provides employees with classes and workshops on topics as diverse as technology training to career transitioning. 

Another positive labor-management approach is illustrated at the wireless division. Prior to AT&T's merger, Cingular Wireless and the Communications Workers of America (CWA) negotiated a neutrality agreement, where both parties refrain from disparaging the other or using intimidating or coercive tactics on employees during union organizing drives. This voluntary pact also gave workers the ability to form a union via majority sign-up, a process in which they sign authorization cards to demonstrate their choice to belong to a union. The agreement proved to be a win-win strategy—both parties focused energy and resources on the growth of the business rather than on hostile conflict during organizing drives. Given a free and fair chance to make an informed decision, a significant number of wireless workers across the country elected to form unions. To date, 85 percent of the non-management wireless workforce has chosen union representation.

Both labor and management honor the wireless branch neutrality agreement at the new AT&T, and similar pacts exist in other divisions as well. Since hammering out the agreements, AT&T and its unions serve as allies and business partners working to advance the success of the company. For example, during the merger, CWA had a definitive voice in shaping the future of the company, and AT&T had the flexibility it needed in the transition. Recently, AT&T and CWA worked together to return previously outsourced help desk support positions to in-house positions. New call centers will soon open in seven cities, including New Orleans, Indianapolis, and Las Vegas, creating over 5,000 new jobs.

The nation's leading telecommunications company doesn't shy away from publicizing its positive labor relations stance and forward-thinking business model. Mark Royse, Executive Vice President of Labor Relations states, "AT&T and its customers benefit from the skills and professionalism of union-represented employees in our business units. Our company has long taken pride in our cooperative and respectful relationship with the unions that represent our employees." AT&T proves that a large company can have a cooperative relationship with its workers' unions and still remain competitive and profitable.

Source:AT&T