SBC Threatens to Withdraw Contract Offer as Workers Strike

MAY 21, 2004 - Posted at 7:41 a.m. CDT, updated at 10:19 a.m. CDT

SAN ANTONIO, TX - SBC Communications says its withdrawing its last contract offer if striking union workers do not accept it by midnight Monday.

That's after union workers started a planned four-day strike in SBC's 13-state service area.  That territory includes Arkansas.  Approximately 20 SBC workers were picketing outside the SBC office in downtown Jonesboro this morning.

The Communications Workers of America launched the strike today shortly after midnight to protest SBC's contract offer.  The CWA represents more than 100,000 SBC workers.

At one SBC facility in San Antonio, about two dozen telephone operators came off shift and joined dozens of other CWA member workers on a picket line.

SBC has said it will mobilize about 40,000 managers, contract workers, and retirees to cover key tasks during the strike.

The company has proposed annual pay increases but asked for higher medical co-payments.  The CWA says that would have hiked average workers' monthly health-care expense to about $70.  It says that's double the amount under the previous contract.

( The Associated Press contributed to this report.)