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BellSouth Reaches Accord With Union

August 9, 2004

The BellSouth Corporation reached a tentative five-year agreement over the weekend with the Communications Workers of America on labor contracts for 45,000 employees.

BellSouth agreed to increase pay 10.5 percent over the term of the contract and to let union members perform work currently done by workers outside the company, a union spokeswoman, Candice Johnson, said.

BellSouth, which is based in Atlanta, and the union had been in discussions since June over contracts that were to expire on Saturday.

During negotiations, the company sought to slow growth in the company's annual $1 billion employee health care bill. Workers said they wanted pay increases, job security and improved pension plans.

A major component of the new agreement allows union members to take some jobs in the fast-growing wireless and digital subscriber line, or D.S.L., communication areas, Ms. Johnson said.

"Our members were installing the D.S.L. lines, but the company had outsourced the customer service jobs," she said.

"Now our members can have those jobs," Ms. Johnson said. "We were missing opportunities for key high-tech jobs. Telecom keeps changing."

The agreement, which must be ratified by the union's members, includes a "health care solution that enables BellSouth to continue to provide high quality, affordable health care," the union said in a statement. It did not provide details.


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