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Verizon Settlement Provides New Union Jobs, Preserves Health Security
Mobilizations conducted by thousands of CWAers at Verizon, such as by these practice picketers from Local 2204 in Norton, Va., provided tremendous support for CWA's bargaining team.
The new tentative three-year settlement with Verizon reached on Aug. 10 achieves CWA's goals of creating union jobs, securing fully paid health benefits for both active and retired workers and boosting wages and pensions for 65,000 workers in the northeast and mid-Atlantic.
The settlement creates at least 2,500 new jobs by eliminating subcontracting in a number of job areas, converting 1,200 temporary and part-time jobs to permanent, and bringing additional FiOS jobs into the bargaining units. FiOS head end technicians for TV services are now represented and Verizon agreed that union techs will perform all installation.
In a breakthrough agreement, Verizon agreed to extend recognition to 600 former MCI techs at Verizon Business who have been seeking union representation for nearly two years, with strong support from CWA and IBEW members who have campaigned to "tear down the wall" between union and non-union parts of the company.
The settlement also guarantees that medium and small business commercial work will be done exclusively by union members, and the company agreed to bring new Verizon Business work equivalent to 200 new jobs to union-represented locations.
Verizon agreed to meet with CWA and IBEW leaders at least three times a year to discuss jobs issues. "This is an important step," said CWA President Larry Cohen. "We're not going to wait around and just talk about all the changes and new technologies and job issues every three years. We're going to make this a meaningful ongoing process."
The settlement preserves fully-paid health care premiums for all active and retired workers over the course of the contract. For new hires, retiree health benefits will be covered by a new defined contribution plan with the amount of contributions to be negotiated in each future contract.
In addition, Verizon agreed to work with the unions in a joint effort to achieve national health care reform with universal coverage, and to provide $2 million a year to fund the project.
Wages and pension bands will increase by 3.25 percent immediately, 3.5 percent the second year and 3.75 percent the third, delivering a compounded total of 10.87 percent. The pact includes a COLA effective Aug. 1, 2010, that would apply to wages if the CPI exceeds 3.75 percent between May 2009 and May 2010. The pension lump sum cashout remains in the contract with no change in the formula for calculating the amount.
"This is a breakthrough agreement in many ways," said Cohen. "It creates new union jobs including major growth areas like FiOS, it takes a big step forward on health care and brings hundreds of Verizon Business employees the union rights they deserve." He said the settlement "provides a framework for growth at Verizon and a good standard of living with careers for our members."
Members of the combined CWA-IBEW bargaining committee, speaking for regional bargaining teams in the northeast and mid-Atlantic, stated: "The involvement and mobilization of tens of thousands of our members made a huge difference in these negotiations. All of us together showed our strength, our commitment, our determination to get the best possible agreement."
Verizon Settlement Provides New Union Jobs, Protects Health Care for Active and Retired Workers, Boosts Wages, Pensions for 65,000
August 10, 2008
Washington, D.C. -- A new tentative three-year contract settlement with Verizon achieves union employees' major goals of promoting union jobs and expanding bargaining rights, providing good health care for both active and retired workers, and increasing wages and pensions for 65,000 workers from Virginia to Maine, the Communications Workers of America and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers reported.
In a breakthrough agreement, Verizon will extend union recognition to 600 former MCI technicians at Verizon Business who have been seeking representation for nearly two years. These workers, who perform the same jobs as the union workforce, have received strong support from CWA and IBEW members in a campaign to "tear down the wall" between union and non-union sectors at Verizon. The agreement also includes new opportunities for union workers to provide customer support and service at Verizon Business.
The tentative settlement also eliminates subcontracting of work in a number of job areas, converts many temporary jobs to permanent and brings additional jobs associated with Verizon's cutting edge FiOS technology into the union bargaining units. Overall, the settlement should create 2,500 new union jobs.
Verizon and the unions have agreed to meet regularly during the course of the new agreement to review technological and business developments affecting employment, which will allow the company to stay current with business opportunities while also insuring that the unions are able to continue to represent employees as the business environment changes.
The issue of health costs and benefits was a major focus of the talks, as it has been in contract negotiations in virtually every industry. The settlement preserves fully-paid health care premiums for all active and retired employees. Future hires will have a defined contribution formula for retirement health care with the amount of Verizon's contributions subject to negotiation in each subsequent contract.
In addition, Verizon agreed to work with the unions in a joint effort to achieve meaningful health care reform. The company will provide funding of $2 million per year to the project.
The settlement calls for wage increases totaling 10.87 percent compounded over the three-year contract term. COLA (cost of living adjustment) language remains in the contract.
Pension bands also will be increased by 10.87 percent compounded over the term of the agreement.
The settlement also provides for a streamlined grievance dispute resolution system which will speed up a process that has been taking as long as three years to complete.
"This is a breakthrough agreement in many ways," said CWA President Larry Cohen. "It creates new union jobs including major growth areas like FiOS, it takes a big step forward on health care and it brings hundreds of Verizon Business employees the union rights they deserve. We applaud management for agreeing to keep the best health coverage in America and for their commitment to work with us for real health care reform. This settlement provides a framework for growth at Verizon and a good standard of living with careers for our members."
"This agreement is a tribute to the solidarity and activism of IBEW and CWA members working at Verizon," said IBEW President Ed Hill. "Our members mobilized strong and negotiated hard for a good contract that will benefit workers and their families now and in the future. We congratulate union and company negotiators for finding solid common ground upon which we can build a better Verizon. With this agreement we have met our goals to protect the retirees who helped build this company and have negotiated important provisions that will ensure future jobs for union members."
CWA represents 50,000 workers at Verizon and IBEW represents another 15,000 in the northeast.
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