SBC Employees Plan Strike in Lubbock - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

5/18/04

SBC Employees Plan Strike in Lubbock

Communications Workers of America, a workers union based out of Washington D.C., says they are tired of waiting for Southwestern Bell Communications to come back with a reasonable employee benefit package. Now, they are ready to strike.

The debate stems around two key issues, job security and health care costs. After months of trying to negotiate an extensive deal with SBC, CWA is ready to play hard ball. They are prepared to strike.

Last month, several CWA union workers who are employed with SBC locally, protested for better job security. Lubbock CWA President Jack Maxey didn't want to go on camera, but tell us SBC is hiring non-union companies overseas to handle calls, and union workers are losing job opportunities.

Union workers are upset over potential increases in their health care co-pay costs.

In Lubbock, CWA has 400 members who work for SBC, 250 of them work in customer service. NewsChannel 11 talked with SBC spokeswoman Amanda Ray in Dallas, and she tells us if union workers decide to strike, they have a plan in place to minimize the impact on their customers.

Ray says SBC has prepared by training managers to handle different duties, contracting with vendors, expanding automated services, and working with agencies to hire temporary help.

CWA still hopes that a settlement can be reached without resorting to a strike, but they say, that will depend upon SBC.

Meanwhile, CWA union workers will decide to strike as early as 11 a.m. on Wednesday, May 19th.

Ray gave us some insight that SBC is working on "excellent" proposals that have not been made public. Which includes "wages and pension increases, to continue excellent health care plans with no monetary contributions, with modest co-pay far below the national levels."

However, we'll have to wait to see if union workers are pleased with that proposal.

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