Verizon Communications Inc. : Verizon Reaches Tentative Deal with 2 Unions
09/20/2012| 06:56am US/Eastern
Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) said it reached a tentative agreement with the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers on new three-year contracts for about 43,000 East Coast wireline employees.
The agreement, reached after about a year of deliberations that eventually included federal mediators, are in the process of being signed, Verizon said.
"We believe this is a fair and balanced agreement that is good for our employees as well as for the future of the wireline business," said Marc Reed, Verizon's chief administrative officer. "It provides competitive wages, valuable benefits and affordable quality health care while giving the company new flexibility to better serve customers and become more efficient."
The unions will submit the deal to their members for a vote. If approved, it will run through August 2015.
In a separate statement, the CWA union said the deal preserves existing job security language, including a prohibition on layoffs of workers hired before 2003 and restrictions on the company's right to relocate work out of the region. The deal also preserves the union's defined benefit pension plan and provisions restricting Verizon's right to reassign workers long distances from their homes.
"We stood up to the most sweeping and intensive attack on our standard of living and bargaining rights in the history of the telecommunications industry," said Chris Shelton, a CWA vice president.
The deal comes more than a year after the previous contract expired. During that time, the telecommunications company and the two unions held a series of unsuccessful talks, highlighted by volatile public statements from the parties.
Verizon had rejected the unions" request to take the talks to mediation and instead insisted that the issues could be solved at the bargaining table, but then agreed to mediation in July. The parties since then had been negotiating on under the auspices of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, an independent government agency.
The employees involved had been working under their previous contract since last August, when the company's pursuit of benefit cuts led to a 15-day strike.
In general, the telecom carriers have seen their wireline businesses deteriorate as consumers depend more heavily on mobile devices and switch off their traditional land-based home phones.
In July, Verizon said its second-quarter income rose as the growth in the wireless business drove revenue and the company increased its overall subscriber base.
Shares were up 36 cents at $45.27 near the close. The stock is up 13% this year.
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