SAN ANTONIO -- Less than a day into a four-day walkout over benefits and outsourcing, SBC Communications Inc. and a union representing the striking workers returned to the bargaining table to try to work out their differences.
After three days with no formal talks, negotiations between SBC and the Communications Workers of America resumed yesterday in New Haven, Chicago, and Pleasanton, Calif.
CWA spokeswoman Candice Johnson said bargaining was scheduled to start later in the day in Austin, Texas.
"We've been saying all along that we wanted to meet with the company as soon as possible," said Johnson, whose union represents about 100,000 SBC employees.
SBC spokesman Walt Sharp said the company also was eager to resume negotiations.
Workers started picketing early yesterday in the 13 states where San Antonio-based SBC is the dominant local-phone provider.
Their jobs as telephone operators, clerical workers, linemen, and service representatives were being filled by 40,000 SBC managers and retirees.
As its members walked the picket lines, the union got some support from John Kerry, the likely Democratic nominee for president, who sent a letter yesterday to SBC chairman and chief executive Edward Whitacre.