17,000 striking AT&T workers head back to work

at&t truck

AT&T union workers went back to work Thursday, one day after 17,000 employees in California and Nevada walked off the job.

The union, the Communications Workers of America, said the workers were protesting the fact that AT&T (T) changed job requirements for landline technicians without consent from the union.

Under the terms of the deal reached late Wednesday, the union said AT&T agreed to "no longer require technicians to perform work assignments outside of their expertise and classification." CWA claimed in a statement that the broader requirements AT&T issued for technicians violated federal laws.

CWA spokesperson Desmond Lee called the deal a "big win for workers."

"We went on strike to demonstrate to the country that we will not do more work for less pay, especially when it puts us in a position not to deliver the best possible service," Robert Longer, an AT&T technician in Sacramento, said in a statement Thursday.

Company spokesperson Marty Richter said the agreement was reached after marathon talks Wednesday.

"We engaged in discussion with the union to get these employees back to work as soon as possible," Richter said.

Related: AT&T agrees to bring 3,000 jobs back to U.S.

The strike did not include workers in AT&T's wireless department. It only involved landline technicians and call center workers in California and Nevada.

Those employees have been working for nearly a year under expired contract terms, and the strike was a means of gaining leverage in ongoing negotiations, the union said. And though AT&T and CWA were able to come to terms Wednesday, it doesn't mean their troubles are over.

CWA said in a statement Thursday that workers in California and Nevada are becoming "increasingly frustrated" with how the company treats its workers.

"Despite the financial success, the company is asking its workers to do more for less -- keeping them from their families with unpredictable overtime, undercutting pay and advancement, offshoring good jobs, and pushing more healthcare costs onto employees," CWA said in a statement.

The union is also angry that AT&T has cut thousands of landline technician and call center jobs in the region in recent years. Elected officials in both states took up the issue by sending a letter to AT&T CEO Randall Stephensen, the CWA said last week.

The letter says the company is "harming communities by cutting thousands of good, middle-class jobs." It also accuses AT&T of dragging its feet on promises to provide high-speed internet throughout rural communities in California and Nevada.

A merger deal between AT&T and CNN parent company Time Warner is currently under review by regulatory authorities.

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