NEW YORK - Contracts of 40,000 AT&T employees expired last Saturday at midnight but a strike was avoided by continuing the negotiations, said the company representatives last Sunday.
Although the expiration of the contracts allows members of the Communications Workers of America to call a strike, the employees the employees have agreed to continue working without a contract said spokeswoman Candice Johnson.
“The employees kept the option of going on a strike open,” said the spokeswoman.
The AT & T spokesman, Marty Richter, confirmed that negotiations are on-going. He also added that company has been preparing for two years in the event that a strike should happen so management and suppliers are ready to make an effort to maintain service in case of unemployment.
The thorniest issues are labor protection and health insurance co-payment. AT & T wants its employees to share more the rising costs of health insurance and have more flexibility when it comes to salary cut backs. Some employees have contracts that guarantee jobs in other subsidiaries of the company in case of dismissal.
The union negotiators emphasize the strength of the finances of the company, which was $4 million dollars in revenues last year.
In total, four labor contracts expired covering approximately 40,000 employees.
Three years ago, both sides continued to negotiate on expiry of the contract and finally reached an agreement without a strike.
AT & T Inc. has the largest unionized workforce in the United States. About 140,000 of its 256,000 employees are unionized.