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Verizon and Unions continue to negotiate for new pacts

08.16.12

AUGUST 2012 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

Verizon and Unions continue to negotiate for new pacts

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, July 25th- 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.

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 several negotiation meetings have been held with the FMCS present.

On August 7th, 2011, approximately 45,000 union Verizon workers, which included 35,000 workers represented by the CWA Local 13000 and CWA Local 13500 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 labor agreement.

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, not much progress has been made at the bargaining table leading-up to federal mediation and the one year anniversity date of the expired contract will be held without a successor pact being reached.

Without reaching new pacts, the unions fear Verizon may implement new contracts on their members, following the one-year anniversity of the expiration of the previous contract. Should the communications giant “post conditions” workers could be forced to work under it’s terms and conditions or go back on strike.

As of press time, negotiations between the parties and the FMCS were continuing.

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