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Union ballots SBC workers on strike action

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Some 100,000 workers at the giant US telco SBC Communications are to vote on strike action. The Communications Workers of America (CWA) told SBC that it has been given 30-days notice that union members may go on strike.

The union claims SBC has failed to address workers' concerns about employment security amid concerns that more and more jobs - such as those in call centres and DSL tech support - are being outsourced to other suppliers and also overseas. It is also concerned about employee contracts and health care.

The union is to begin balloting members on possible strike action: a decision is expected by April 29. If members vote to strike, the CWA will then set a date for industrial action.

CWA President Morton Bahr said: "CWA's goal is always to reach a peaceful settlement and to negotiate a fair agreement by the contract expiration. However, SBC must approach this process in the same spirit, with the same determination to reach an agreement that recognises the contributions of workers and safeguards their jobs and health security."

CWA represents 100,000 workers at SBC West (formerly Pacific Bell), SBC Midwest (Ameritech), SBC Southwest (Southwestern Bell) and SBC East (Southern New England Telephone.)

As well as preparing for strike action, the union is also trying to pressure SBC by urging members to ditch SBC as their telco provider in a move that could hit revenues at the company. CWA has used this strategy successfully in the past, Bahr said.

No one at SBC was available for comment at the time of writing. ®

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