Three hundred SBC employees in Tyler went on strike today after a deadlock in contract negotiations with the company. The main issues: health care and job security.
Members of the Communications Workers of America began the work day by protesting outside the buildings they normally would be inside. CWA says during the unions contract negotiations with SBC, no outrageous demands were made.
"As far as demands we're just trying to keep the healthcare coverage that we have already," says Patty Parker an SBC Representative on strike. "We're not asking for an awful lot more, we'd like to be able to be able to keep the jobs that we've got."
Temporary workers are in place to reduce the strikes effects to customers.
In a statement released to KLTV, SBC said: "We're prepared for a strike. We're working hard to minimize any possible impact on customer service. Our network is now functioning at 99.99 percent reliability and will continue to do so for our customers."
Customer service was put to the test today. When dialing directory assistance, at times it took more than a minute to get a response. Normally that response would be immediate.
Replacements are trying to fill the roles of over 100,000 striking workers across the United States. Strikers say they aren't surprised it's taking longer for customers to get assistance.
"When they call, I imagine they are going to do the best they can," says Patty. "But, I can't imagine them not being affected without the people who do this job everyday."
SBC says a new round of negotiations will begin if an agreement has not been reached by Monday night.
For customers the end of the strike could be the difference in listening to a ring tone, and hearing a friendly greeting.
CWA workers are set to end the strike at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday morning.
Story by Maya Golden, firstname.lastname@example.org