SEPTEMBER 2012, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News
Verizon and union’s still meeting regarding labor pacts
BY PAUL TUCKER
LEHIGH VALLEY, August 18th- Members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) Union and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union are still without new collective bargaining agreements with Verizon.
The CWA and IBEW members have been without new labor agreements with Verizon since August 6th, 2011.
Recently in an attempt to gain new contracts, the unions asked for federal mediation through the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) in Washington. Verizon first declined the request for mediation but later agreed and negotiation meetings have been held with the FMCS present. Meetings between the parties have been suspended several times but were continued after taking several days away from conducting negotiations.
On August 7th, 2011, approximately 45,000 union Verizon workers, which included 35,000 workers represented by the CWA and 10,000 employees represented by IBEW, went on strike.
The union’s and Verizon were unable to reach an agreement because of managements insistence of give-backs and job cuts. The give-backs included higher healthcare benefit cost and jobs being outsourced to private contractors.
The unions stated the strike occured because Verizon came to negotiations with an extreme set of contract proposals and would not move off of them.
The workers returned to their jobs on August 23rd, 2011 without receiving new contracts but had the understanding negotiations would continue and the workers would work under the “terms and conditions” of the previous pact.
The CWA and the IBEW felt working under the terms and conditions of the expired contract would be better for their members than agreeing to a “bad” contract in which pensions would be cut and current and retired employees health insurance would cost more.
According to CWA Local 13000, several issues remain in the way from the parties reaching successor contracts. The union’s have attempted to keep at least two issues on the bargaining table to prohibit the company from declaring a “impasse” and posting conditions on their members.
The unions fear Verizon may attempt to implement new contracts now that the one-year anniversity of the expiration of the previous contract’s has been achieved. Should the communications giant “post conditions” workers could be forced to work under it’s “terms and conditions” or go back on strike.