Verizon strike nears end as tentative agreements reached

Verizon Communications Inc. says it has reached reached tentative agreements with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) on new contracts for about 36,000 employees currently on strike in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. The agreements should see the workers back on the job June 1.

Verizon Communications Inc. says it has reached reached tentative agreements with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) on new contracts for about 36,000 employees currently on strike in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. The agreements should see the workers back on the job June 1.

The agreements come after about a year of negotiations, capped by a strike that began April 13, 2016 (see "Verizon wireline workers eye strike April 13"). Sticking points in the negotiations included concessions Verizon sought on healthcare costs as well as worker concerns that they could be assigned out of their local areas indefinitely. The strikers worked primarily for Verizon's network operations and consumer and mass business units.

The service provider claimed victory on the healthcare matter, saying the new agreements would result in both cost savings and cost avoidance.

Workers, meanwhile, will see their wages increase 10.5% over the life of the contracts, which would expire on August 3, 2019. The first pay bump is set to occur after the contracts are ratified.

"The tentative agreements reached today are good for our employees, good for our customers and will be good for our business," said Marc Reed, Verizon's chief administrative officer. "The new contracts will help ensure that Verizon employees continue to receive solid wages and excellent healthcare and retirement benefits. They also include key changes sought by the company to better position our wireline business for success in the digital world."

The CWA also hailed the agreements as advancing the cause of its union members. The union pointed to several concessions they say they earned via the negotiations:

  • the addition of 1,300 new East Coast call center jobs
  • the reversal outsourcing initiatives that the union believes will create new field technician jobs
  • the 10.9% pay raises, plus a $1250 signing bonus in the Mid-Atlantic and a $1000 signing bonus plus a $250 healthcare reimbursement account in the Northeast
  • $2800 minimum in profit sharing
  • pension increases
  • a first contract for Verizon Wireless retail store employees in Brooklyn, NY, and Everett, MA.

As was the case the last time workers in these regions went on strike in 2011, acts of sabotage on Verizon's network marred the most recent job action (see "Verizon reports network sabotage in strike areas" and "Verizon alleged network sabotage count reaches 57").

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