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AT&T, UNIONS TOUTING CONTRACT AGREEMENT

AT&T and its unions are touting a contract agreement that boosts wages and pension payments while providing such family-related benefits as six months of leave to care for either newborn children or sick parents and a $5 million fund for child care.

"We realized our people have to balance work and family life if they are really going to make a contribution," AT&T senior vice president Harold Burlingame said Sunday after the company and unions reached agreement on three-year contracts covering 160,000 workers.Morton Bahr, president of the Communications Workers of America, said the agreement "features an unprecedented breakthrough in labor-management relations with respect to family care."

Bahr was also speaking on behalf of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the second union covered by the agreement.

Both sides agreed to extend the talks beyond the midnight Saturday deadline. The contract must now be ratified by the union's rank and file.

Highlights of the agreement include:

-Six months parental leave after the birth of a child, with employment and seniority guaranteed and all medical insurance paid by the company.

-A $5 million child-care fund, jointly administered by the company and unions, to support new and existing child care centers in regions of the country where union members report difficulty obtaining services.

-Up to $2,000 from AT&T to workers to help cover the costs of adoption.