100,000 SBC Communications employees strike today: More than 100,000 workers in 13 states, including 5,500 in Connecticut, are expected to stay home or walk a picket line today after contract talks between the Communications Workers of America and SBC Communications Inc. broke down Tuesday. CWA Local 1298 workers wore red shirts, held strike signs and waved union flags, gearing up for what is being labeled as a "warning strike." "People are disappointed that the company hasn't bargained in good faith," said Don Surprenant, a customer service representative for SBC in New Haven. "It's hard for workers to understand how SBC can pull out $41 billion in cash to pay for AT&T Wireless and then say that it's costing the company too much money for health care benefits." Paul Hongo, president of the Hamden-based local, galvanized the crowd by repeatedly asking, "What do we want?" to which workers yelled, "Contract!" State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal was on hand, pledging his support for the workers and their fight to keep jobs in the state. SBC and the union are at odds over whether positions related to new products, such as high-speed Internet service, will be union jobs. "You are not alone in your fight to protect jobs ... from the onslaught of offshoring and outsourcing that threatens the fabric of this country," Blumenthal said. "You are in the trenches to ensure jobs to working families." Connecticut should fight to keep jobs here, said New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr., drawing a parallel to the 300 workers losing their jobs at the Bic plant in Milford over the next two years. "This is about keeping jobs in the state. Now is the time," he said. "You should be at home (tonight), but instead you're here fighting for home." Bob Proto, head of the New Haven Central Labor Council, drew loud cheers from the crowd by demanding that SBC keep operator jobs in the United States.


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