CWA, AT&T Reach Tentative Agreement

After almost a year of talks, non-talks and protests, the Communications Workers of America says it has struck a deal with AT&T Wireless that includes enforceable protections against discrimination based on gender identify as well as more union workers on call center calls and a 10.1% pay raise over the course of the four-year contract.

CWA represents over 21,000 AT&T wireless employees.

The gender protections are for the 16 states that don't have their own nondiscrimination laws. The tentative agreement covers workers in 36 states.

According to CWA, the tentative contract also "shifts $2,500 from commission to base pay for retail workers, boosting the average to $19.20 per hour by the end of the contract, or, CWA says, "74% more than the national average pay for retail workers."

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The contract also guarantees union members a piece of call center work, and help getting a new job if a call center closes.

Repatriating call center jobs has become a trend, and one in keeping with the Trump Administration calls for returning jobs and investment to the U.S.

But CWA was focused on the transgender protections.

“We stand in solidarity and unity with LGBTQ members of the CWA family. Their fight for equality and a workplace free of discrimination and harassment is our fight too and we are proud to carry the torch on their behalf,” said Dennis Trainor, VPt of CWA District One. “This contract shines a light on the union power to drive progress—proving that no problem is too daunting to go unchallenged. Let this be a signal to opponents of LGBTQ equality, who are nearly always opponents of workers’ rights too: we stand strong together and will tear down all obstacles to full equality.”

"We’ve long been committed to diversity and have been widely recognized for our commitment and performance," said an AT&T spokesperson. "That includes DiversityInc., which  named us No. 4 on its 2017 Top 50 Companies for Diversity, and named us to its Top Companies for LGBT Employees."

"LGBT Tech applauds CWA and AT&T for reaching a historic agreement that includes the most extensive gender identity protections in the industry," said Chris Wood, executive director of LGBT Technology Partnership & Institute. "According to our own research, transgender individuals face more than double (47%) the discrimination their lesbian, gay or bisexual (21%) peers face in the workplace. Agreements that extend gender identity protections for our community, like the CWA/AT&T agreement, not only create significant opportunities for LGBTQ workers but, even more importantly, create a new industry-wide standard that more accurately reflects the consumers they serve. Other industries and companies should be taking note and include both sexual orientation and gender identity protections in all agreements, regardless of state laws.  LGBT Tech will continue to be on the forefront of education and advocacy on gender identity issues in the tech industry.”

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.