Negotiations stalled Sunday between AT&T and union workers as the two groups failed to reach a deal following a 24-hour extension of the union’s contract, which covers 20,000 AT&T Mobility employees across the country.

Employees with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) are currently working under an expired contract. There have been no calls for a strike.

The union requested a 30-day contract extension under a 2005 labor agreement, arguing that AT&T had underestimated the amount of time required to comb through the company’s final offer.

“There are a lot of really complicated issues,” says CWA representative Candice Johnson. “They came to the table at the last minute with a huge package that they want as their final offer.”

The offer is reasonable given current economic conditions, argues AT&T representative Walt Sharp. “Companies are folding, laying off employees. We believe that 9.14 percent [cumulative wage increase] over four years is reasonable,” Sharp says.

Wages, job security and working conditions are workers’ primary concerns, with 85 percent of union members at AT&T Mobility voting to authorize a strike if a “fair and equitable” contract agreement is not reached.

Though no strike has been announced, Sharp told The Associated Press that AT&T is ready if there is one: "We prepare for earthquakes, we prepare for tornadoes, and we prepare for work stoppages. We have a business-continuity plan in place that will ensure our customers have the service they need."

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•  FirstNews Briefs for Feb. 09, 2009