MERIDEN, Conn. (AP) _ Nearly 20,000 unionized SBC Communications Inc. workers in Connecticut, Ohio and Michigan began a planned four-day strike early Friday, while about 80,000 fellow employees in 10 other states were poised to begin similar walkouts at midnight.
SBC workers, including 5,500 in Connecticut, 6,200 in Ohio and at least 9,000 in Michigan, are protesting the company's latest contract offer, which the union says falls short in several key areas.
Nearly 200 striking workers gathered at SBC's technical center in Meriden late Thursday and early Friday. They cheered as co-workers walked out of the center after their shift, then formed a line across the road in front of the plant.
Employee Robert Brown said he believes the company is obligated to provide its workers with adequate benefits.
``I have two children, so benefits are everything,'' said Brown, 44, of Middletown, Conn.
The Communications Workers of America, which represents 102,000 SBC workers in the San Antonio-based company's 13-state region, called the short strike to protest SBC's offer.
SBC has said it will mobilize about 40,000 managers, contract workers and retirees to cover key tasks during the strike, which is scheduled to end at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.