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is using a stopgap team of management, employees and retirees to keep its networks operating, as a four-day strike by about 100,000 employees represented by the Communications Workers of America began Friday.

The telecommunications giant said its communications network and services are "working well, following the successful transition overnight." Workers in 13 states walked out at midnight. The union is striking for better health benefits and outsourcing protections in a new contract. Negotiations broke off Tuesday.

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"The company's advanced, highly automated digital network is functioning with its normal 99.99% reliability," SBC said. "As always, the company is monitoring its network around-the-clock at operations and command centers across the country."

The CWA is demanding job security provisions, pay increases and the option to unionize jobs in growth areas like wireless. Among the company's proposals were a lump sum 4% pay increase for the first year, 2.5% for the following two years and 2.25% the last two years. That amounts to a roughly 14.2% increase over five years.