Third SBC Employee Protest In Lubbock - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

4/23/04

Third SBC Employee Protest In Lubbock

Communications workers of America have union workers employed at Southwestern Bell. Those SBC workers have rallied three times since the news came out about increasing their health care costs. In fact, SBC workers in 13 other states are rallying against SBC's proposal.

"Can't spare our health care," was one of the messages chanted during a rally Friday afternoon outside of the SBC building. "We're asking for no cut backs on our health care. The company made millions of money. We're the ones who helped that company make that money for the company. We feel the company is not struggling and we're entitled to our health benefits," said employee Linda Hamel.

She has worked 28 years for SBC and finding another job is not an option for her or anyone else upset over SBC's proposal to raise their health care costs. About 30 people rallied outside the SBC building. "Their careers are here. They've developed their lives here. It's hard to go out and find another job. They're really loyal to SBC. Like I said their not against SBC we're just in a labor dispute," said Hamel.

C.W.A. or Communications Workers of America is a union disputing the increase. C.W.A. members work for SBC in Lubbock. SBC wants its C.W.A. represented employees to pay 12% on their co-pays and deductibles. Employees are paying 4% to 7% according to SBC. "We're not in favor of any increase," said Hamel.

SBC spokeswoman Amanda Ray says "Even with the modest increases we're proposing in health insurance co-pay, our C.W.A. employees would still have some of the best health care in the nation."

This is the third protest in Lubbock. C.W.A. and SBC have been back and forth on this issue. Right now, SBC is taking into consideration what these union workers want. But nothing has been decided. Another issue irritating C.W.A., SBC has call centers in India and is paying those people minimum wages. C.W.A. feels this takes away jobs union workers could have.

There's a possibility workers at SBC plan to strike at the end of the month if these issues aren't resolved.

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