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SBC Says Offer Stands Only Through Strike

By Matt Sepic, KWMU

St. Louis – Telecom giant SBC said Thursday its contract offer to the Communication Workers of America will expire at 11:59 Monday night. That's when a planned strike is scheduled to end.

The CWA represents more than 100,000 SBC workers. It plans to launch a four-day strike tonight, just after midnight.

The walkout will affect about 6,400 Missouri workers, most of whom are in St. Louis.

St. Louis SBC spokeswoman Ann Balsamo says after Monday, company and union negotiators will have to start over from scratch.

"If the union does not accept the offer, we will welcome our employees back on Tuesday," Balsamo said. "We have agreed with the union to not have a lockout on Tuesday."

But CWA Northern Area Director Rita Voorheis calls the move unfortunate.

"We would certainly like to begin bargaining from where we were," Voorheis said. "But that's an awful lot of lost time and effort on the company as well as the union's part if the company does take that position."

The union opposes proposed cuts to its medical benefits and wants more job-security guarantees.

SBC says the contract is fair.