Academic journal article
By Ruben, George
Monthly Labor Review , Vol. 112, No. 8
AT&T settlement American Telephone & Telegraph Co. (AT&T) settled with the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers on a 3-year contract. The settlement focused on "family care benefits," reflecting the increasing concern throughout the Nation regarding adeqaute care for children and/or elderly or infirm relatives in families in which both spouses are employed. A 1987 survey of AT&T employees--53 percent of whom are women--showed a growing concern for family care, particularly child care.
Company vice president Raymond E. Williams called the agreement "the most progressive ever negotiated by AT&T. It recognizes the needs for AT&T's changing work force and it will further strengthen AT&T's competitive thrust and cost containment as the company enters the 1990's."
Similar sentiments regarding child care and elder care were expressed by Communications Workers' president Morton Bahr and Electrical Workers' president John J. Barry. The two unions bargained as one with AT&T, a departure from their past practice of coordinating bargaining but settling separately, which sometimes resulted in variations in terms. The 1989 accord covered 135,000 employees represented by the Communications Workers and 40,000 represented by the Electrical Workers.
The new family care approach calls for--
* A $5 million company obligation to fund efforts to increase the number of professional organizations able to meet the child and elder care needs of employees.
* Up to 12 months of unpaid leave for the birth or adoption of a child (up from 6 months), and a provision permitting employees to take up to 12 months of leave within a 2-year period to care for seriously ill family members. During both types of leave, AT&T will pay the full cost of death benefits and basic group life insurance for up to 1 year and medical expense benefits for up to 6 months, with employees paying the full cost of supplemental life insurance on themselves and dependent health insurance coverage.
* A company payment of up to $2,000 to employees adopting children under age 18, effective January 1, 1990.
* Resource and referral organizations, engaged by the company, to assist employees in locating and evaluating care for children under age 13 and relatives older than age 59. The separate organizations are to begin operating on January 1 of 1990 and 1991, respectively, and will also foster the expansion and establishment of care plans.
* New dependent care reimbursement accounts allwing employees to deposit up to $5,000 a year, free from Federal income and Social Security taxes. The money will be used to provide care in or out of the employee's home--but not in a nursing home--for dependent children under age 13 and for elderly dependents not capable of self-care. Money remaining in individual accounts at the end of a plan year will be shifted into a general account and credited to all participants.
* A trial revision of the existing excused workday plan--during 1990, employees can take off on short notice and in increments of at least 2 hours, one of the 4 annual paid days off.
Wage increases for the 115,000 "non-manufacturing" or operating employees are 4 percent retroactive to May 28,1989, 2.5 percent on May 27, 1990, and 2.25 percent on May 26, 1991. The 60,000 manufacturing employees received an immediate lump-sum payment equal to 8 percent of their earnings during the preceding 12 months, followed by wage increases of 3.5 percent on May 27, 1990, and 3 percent on May 26, 1991. …