Atlanta, GA – BellSouth workers have approved five-year labor contracts that include pay raises. The six contracts were ratified Tuesday and cover about 45 thousand employees and members of the Communications Workers of America in the Southeast. The agreements were reached last month only hours before the previous contract would have expired, and a strike would have been authorized. The agreements call for almost 11 percent pay increases over the five years. BellSouth will also pay a lump sum equal to four percent of a worker's annual salary. That annual salary average is 46 thousand dollars. In addition to the pay issues...the agreements also protect health care benefits. The Atlanta-based BellSouth is the dominant local phone provider here in Alabama as well as in eight other Southeastern states.