A.T.&T. and Unions Agree On Major New Child-Care Plan
The American Telephone and Telegraph Company and two unions have agreed on a plan that backers say "breaks ground" in providing child care and other family-related benefits to some 160,000 workers.
The agreement with the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers will establish a $5-million Family Care Development Fund to increase "the number and quality of child- and elder-care services" available to employees, according to the company.
Michael Tarpy, an a.t.&t. spokesman, said the fund would offer "seed money" to support family-care services in concert with local agencies and other companies. The centers could serve the wider community, he noted, while providing "some favorable treatment" to at&t employees.
Under the agreement, which must still be ratified by members of both unions, the telecommunications giant will set up services to help workers locate and evaluate family care.
It also will extend from six months to a year the amount of unpaid leave employees can take to care for a newborn or adopted child, improve benefits coverage during such leaves, and guarantee reinstatement to an equivalent job upon return.
In addition, the contract will allow employees to establish accounts that offer tax savings on money they set aside for child and elder care, and will provide for more flexible family-leave policies and financial aid for the adoption of children.
Raymond E. Williams, a vice president of the firm, called the agreement "the most progressive" it has ever negotiated. The pact "recognizes the needs of a.t.&t.'s changing work force," he said.