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Answers to Some Commonly Asked Questions about the AT&T-Southwest T.A.

updated March 15, 2017

Listen to the entire contract explanation call here.

These are brief answers to questions asked before and during the contract explanation call. We received more than 800 questions and will continue to update this page to cover the topics that were raised.

Before you’re asked to vote on the tentative agreement, you will receive a detailed summary of the agreement, including specific information about health care costs, in the mail.

Q.  Is the Friday after Thanksgiving still a holiday?

A.   Yes.

Q.  Are there changes to night differentials or double time and a half on Sunday?

A.   No.

Q.  Has the temporary leave of absence (TLOA) changed?

A.   No.

Q.  What are we giving up?

A.   There are no retrogressive givebacks for any employee.

Q. Is the RMR task agreement still intact?

A.   The Recommendations of the Revenue Management Representative Working Group was renewed for the life of the 2017 Labor Agreement.

Q. The two-hour notification is an efficient way of controlling the end of the work day. Why would the company want to discontinue it?

A.   The two-hour notification remains in place and will continue for the life of the 2017 Labor Agreement.

The two-hour notification committee will be meeting more often as the business continues to reorganize and change.

Parental leave

Q.  Please explain the new 2 week parental time. Will women still get 6 weeks after delivery?

A.   Two weeks paid leave for parent to bond with newborn or adopted child: first ever in AT&T contract. Women are still entitled to 6 weeks of pay after birth of a child.

Bargaining & Ratification

Q. Will employees be able to view the new contract before they vote to ratify it?

A.   No. New contracts aren’t printed until after an agreement has been ratified. It would not be useful to print 20,000+ contract books only to have to throw them out if the agreement isn’t ratified. This has always been the procedure.

You will receive a final bargaining report―a detailed summary of everything that was negotiated―in the mail with your ballot. It’s also posted on the District 6 website. Take the time to fully understand the changes. (Note that only the changes to the contract are included in the summary. Things that aren’t listed remain the same.)

Q.  How does this compare to other contracts reached in other Districts? Why aren’t we holding out like District 9?

A.   It’s impossible to compare the regional contracts item by item. In 1984, a court decision forced the old AT&T company to break up and the regional contracts came into existence. In the 33 years since then, each contract has been negotiated every 3 or 4 years. After that many rounds of negotiations, each contract has taken on a life of its own because of what CWA members in those agreements directed their bargaining committees to negotiate for by filling out bargaining surveys and making bargaining proposals. There are many similarities but many differences.

District 9 currently is in difficult negotiations. They are not “holding out” just for the sake of holding out. The issues at their negotiating table are serious and they have not yet reached an agreement with the company. We in District 6 are supportive of District 9 CWA members in their quest to achieve a breakthrough in their negotiations.

Q.  If the contract is voted down, can we go and negotiate a better contract?

A.   Should this tentative agreement not be ratified no one can truly know where future negotiations would end up. But there is at least two items that we could expect:

  • The bargaining committee was successful in negotiating a $1000 early signing bonus. No other regional agreement received any kind of signing bonus. We achieved this because of hard bargaining and the fact that we entered into early negotiations.
  • What has been achieved in these negotiations will not be a springboard or starting point for further negotiations. We would in essence enter again into negotiations with nothing agreed on and starting over.

Q. Can District 6 and District 9 combine if we go without a contract in April? If not why not?

A.   District 6 and District 9 cannot combine negotiations after the expiration of the District 6 contract with AT&T in April.

Different Regional Labor Agreements cover AT&T West/District 9 and AT&T Southwest/District 6. The agreements are negotiated separately and must be ratified by the respective CWA members who are covered by each Labor Agreement.

Q. There seems to be all kinds of information being sent around about the contract. Much of the information seems to contradict other information. Why is this, and how do we know what is accurate?

A.   There is always some information that gets passed around during contract negotiations. Because of social media, it seems that there is more information than ever making the rounds.

No one can really know why so much information, some of it completely inaccurate, is being sent around. In most cases, individuals probably think they are helping other members seeking answers to questions.

Since there is no way to regulate social media, all we can do is try to ensure that the information provided on this website is accurate.

Every member in good standing will receive a ballot in the mail regarding ratification of this agreement. Enclosed with that ballot will be a summary of what has been negotiated. Take the time to go through that summary before you vote and return your ballot.

Health care

Q. The highlights show that cost sharing for health insurance will go up to 27% for 2018. What is the percentage we pay today?

A.   Currently, the cost sharing percentage for employees is 26% for the 2017 plan year.

Q.  What are the changes to the health care plans besides the price?

A.   The health care (Medical Plan) continues to be one of the best offered for any occupation for any company in the country. While the costs are going to increase over the 4-year agreement, those costs, percentage wise, are better than any other regional agreement that has been negotiated.

The CWA bargaining committee negotiated an option 2 medical plan that has significantly lower monthly contributions than the traditional medical plan that has been negotiated in each round of bargaining. Depending on an employee’s medical history and current health this may be a good fit for either the individual or a family.

3,900 employees, including over 3,600 Premises Technicians who were hired on or after January 1, 2015, will begin paying for their health care at current employee rates beginning on January 1, 2018. This will save both single employees and families considerable money over the life of the agreement.

Q.  How does wage increase compare with increase in health care costs?

A.   There is dialogue taking place on social media that the increase in health care costs are greater than the wage raises. Nothing could be further from the truth. Before there is any increase in your health care premium, you will receive a 3.0% pay. On January 1, 2018, the monthly premium costs will remain at the current Individual expense of $105. The family costs will go from the current $225 to $264 a month. Let’s use the Premises Technician job classification as an example. The 3.0% raise will increase the currently weekly wage rate of $939.00 to $967.00. The $27 weekly increase multiplied by 4 weeks in a month is $108. That pays for the $39 increase in the monthly premium and still increases take home pay. And remember the Premises Technician will receive another pay increase on May 6, 2018. This not only typifies the Premises Technician gains in take home pay, but also is true by using the same math for the following job classifications:

  • Service Representative – increase in monthly pay for 2017 - $148
  • SS-1 Clerical – increase in monthly pay for 2017 - $126

It would be disingenuous to suggest that the employee will only have to pay for the monthly premium. Depending on the employee’s and/or the health of their family there could be other costs, like out-of-pocket expenses that could add to monthly health care costs.

Q. Are the wage increases enough to pay for the increases in the Medical Insurance?

 A.  Yes, not only will the wage increases pay for projected increases to the medical benefit, but employees will still raise their standard of living because of the increases in take home pay.

The CWA Bargaining Committee has been working with the Company to implement a calculator that employees can utilize in the workplace. The calculator will allow employees to look at their weekly pay raise and shift money around in the health care benefit. Once the Union Committee has verified all the components of the calculator it will be available to all employees in the workplace. The CWA Committee has agreed that the calculator will be implemented on a Company site, so that the most employees possible might take advantage of it.

Premises technicians

Q.  Why did other employees get taken care of in this contract but not the Premise Technicians?

A.   The CWA Bargaining Committee negotiates for all job titles and all employees in the bargaining unit. The committee does not negotiate for only one job title or group of employees.

Q. In previous contracts Premises Technicians had their scope of work changed. Premises Technicians began performing work that Customer Services Technicians had formerly performed. Did that occur with this bargaining?

A.   No, there was no change to the scope of work that Premises Technicians will be performing over the next 4 years. Premises Technicians have no additional work added to their job duties that Group I craft are currently performing.

Q. Are Premises Technicians going to receive additional pay when they have job duties like DirecTV work added?

A.   We do not negotiate piece work for any job classification. Premises Technicians will continue to perform work on the customer premise.

So-called additional job duties are performed by every job classification in the Labor Agreement as that work becomes available. Service Representatives sell any and all new products as the Company makes decisions to offer those products. Cable Splicing Technicians continue to perform splicing work regardless of the technologies used, copper wire or fiber. Technology will continue to change the products offered as well as the methods used to supply those products. Additional pay is not negotiated into any job classification for working with new technologies.

Premises Technicians received additional hourly pay increases in the 2009 and the 2013 Labor Agreements because they began performing work that had historically been performed by the Customer Services Technicians. There were no negotiations in 2017 regarding the shifting of work formerly performed by one job classification into the Premises Technician scope of work.

The Company has shifted towards installation of DirecTV technology instead of U-verse technology for many customers. That decision has negatively impacted the Premises Technicians in most areas due to a lack of volume of work. The Bargaining Committee was determined to ensure that all work being done on the customer premise, no matter the technology used, would continue to be performed by bargaining unit employees.

Job security

Q.  Will the jobs returned to the U.S. go to contractors or union employees?

A.   The 3,000 jobs will be returned to union positions in District 6 in either the AT&T Southwest contract or the AT&T Mobility contract.

Q.  Please explain the modifications to JOG.

A.   The existing 144 employees currently protected on the Job Offer Guarantee will remain in their current status for the life of the agreement.

Q.  What is job security for Prem Techs? How would a surplus affect us?

A.   If a surplus of Premises Technicians were to occur, it would be conducted according to inverse seniority, meaning the most junior Premises Technicians would be surplussed first. Currently, it is management’s discretion who would be surplussed first.

The Premises Technician layoff table was increased from 48 months and more, to 96 months and more.

Pension and retirement

Q.  If retiring during the new contract, do you get the same health care price as members for the length of the contract? Will this contract extend medical/dental vision benefits to those that retire during the life of the contract like the last one did?

A.   Yes to both questions.

Q.  Are there any changes to the pension?

A.   The traditional pension bands were increased by 1% for each year of the agreement.

The lump sum pension option for the traditional plan will remain in effect for the life of the contract.

The BCB2 pension will continue to be funded for all 4 years of the proposed agreement. There will be no changes to the multipliers.