34,000 Verizon union workers to vote on new 4-year pact
Two Verizon workers at a store in Mountain View, Calif. | Paul Sakuma / AP

WASHINGTON (PAI)—Some 34,000 unionized Verizon workers from Maine through Virginia will vote over the next few weeks on a new 4-year contract extension with the giant telecom firm, their unions, the Communications Workers (CWA) and the Electrical Workers (IBEW), said.

And this time, CWA said, they weren’t forced to walk out for 49 days to get an agreement, unlike two years ago.

The new pact extends the current contract, which was set to end in August 2019, through August 5, 2023. One key feature is an 11.2 percent raise over the life of the extension. It “ensures a better future and good, family-supporting jobs for thousands of Verizon workers,” said CWA District 1 Vice President Dennis Trainor, whose area includes workers in New York and New England.

“Since the end of the 2016 strike, we have seen a marked improvement in the relationship between CWA and Verizon, and this agreement reflects the more constructive relationship that has developed since then.”

The extension covers call center workers, the central office, and field techs. Separate pacts cover 40 Verizon retail call center workers in Brooklyn, New York, and seven more retail workers in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, who just joined CWA.

The Brooklyn pact includes a $900 signing bonus—plus the general pay increase—seniority protections, better grievance procedures, and a joint labor-management committee to work out scheduling problems.

“Verizon approached CWA earlier this summer to propose early negotiations to extend the current contract,” said District 2-13 Vice President Ed Mooney, who represents workers from Pennsylvania down through Virginia. “We saw this as an opportunity to make improvements for our members without the lengthy conflict we experienced two years ago. This is a solid agreement that will improve the living standards of our members across the region.”

The extension also helps future Verizon retirees, said IBEW. “We were able to stick to the important issues of wages, medical benefits and the duration of the contract, and I’m happy to bring it to our members, where I’m confident it will be ratified,” said Robert Speer, business manager of 4,000-Verizon-member IBEW Local 827 in New Jersey.

“These victories for Verizon workers are a testament to working people’s power in numbers,” said CWA President Chris Shelton. “When we take decisive action, we pave the way for big wins—protecting middle class jobs and raising standards across the board. When we remain united, we secure a better life for our families. Verizon and other big corporations are realizing that long-term success means investing in workers today.”

“I’m proud of our IBEW leaders at Verizon, who stuck together and hammered out a strong agreement that only raises standards for telecommunications workers,” said IBEW President Lonnie Stephenson. “I hope it represents a new positive chapter in our relationship with Verizon, one based on collaboration, not confrontation.”

 

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CONTRIBUTOR

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Press Associates Union News Service provides national coverage of news affecting workers, including activism, politics, economics, legislation in Congress and actions by the White House, federal agencies and the courts that affect working people. Mark Gruenberg is Editor in chief and owner of Press Associates Union News Service, Washington, D.C.

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