Over the weekend, I had the chance to ask a friend in the Communication Workers of America about the SBC strike. "We're hoping to win in four days," she told me. Looks like that's just what happened: Local-phone giant SBC Communications Inc. reached a tentative contract agreement with more than 100,000 union employees early Tuesday, hours after the workers' planned four-day strike came to an end, union and company officials said. Communications Workers of America leaders say the five-year deal, which is subject to member ratification, improves wages and strengthens job security for the employees it represents in 13 states..."This agreement helps ensure that American workers and their communities benefit from the promise of new information technology jobs,'' CWA President Morton Bahr said in a statement, adding that the pact provides opportunity for members as they move from traditional telecom work to the new technologies of the industry. The tentative agreement provided across-the-board base wage increases. On average, employees will receive base wage increases of 2.3 percent per year for five years and lump sums averaging $300 per year, said SBC officials...The agreement also includes new access to jobs in the growth areas, protects health security for both active employees and retirees, and improves pensions. The settlement guarantees no layoffs of employees currently on the payroll for the life of the agreement and calls for rehiring of several hundred workers who had been laid off at SBC Southwest and SBC Midwest. "Because of our members' unity, we were able to reach a settlement that everyone is proud of,'' said Anthony Bixler, CWA vice president in California, Hawaii and Nevada. While some increases in co-payments for medical services and prescription drugs were agreed upon, SBC will continue to provide fully paid health care benefits, the union said. More power to them.


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