Verizon Announces Tentative Union Contract Settlement
But NJ IBEW union local website cautions there still is not a signed agreement in place.
Verizon Communications Inc. announced on Wednesday that a tentative agreement has been reached between the company and the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) on new, three-year contracts for about 43,000 East wireline associates.
The agreement is in the process of being signed, and must be presented to union members for a ratification vote, Verizon said.
Meanwhile, a communication on the New Jersey IBEW Local 827 website cautioned that union local has "problems" with signing an agreement until the resolution the firing of a former employee accused of strike-related misconduct last year. But the website also said ratification meetings will be scheduled in early October.
The contract, reportedly to run through Aug. 1, 2015 if approved by the union membership, replaces an agreement that expired in Aug. 2011, prompting a strike last summer and several demonstrations during the past year by the Verizon building in Basking Ridge.
“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 agreement was achieved through lengthy negotiations and mediation conducted under the auspices of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS), which began in July, Verizon said.
Bill Huber, president and business manager of New Jersey Local 827 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, was unavailable for email comment on Wednesday evening.
However, in a communication signed by Huber on the IBEW Local 827 website, Huber said, "Despite the Federal Mediation News Release, despite the International CWA “We Stood Up” release, and despite the International IBEW press release announcing a Tentative Agreement between IBEW New England and New York, CWA and Verizon, IBEW. Local 827 and CWA District 2-13 (the South Bargaining table) has not signed the agreement."
In the International IBEW press release, also on the IBEW Local 827 website, IBEW International President Edwin D. Hill was quoted as saying, "In this tough economic climate, with many politicians and CEOs preaching more and more austerity for the middle class, working families at Verizon stood strong and stuck together to get the best possible agreement,” Hill said. “We don’t agree with everything in it, but it allows us to move forward and continue to fight for good middle-class jobs at Verizon in the years to come.”
“The strong unity of the members at the bargaining table and in the workplace — along with the impartial hand of Director Cohen and his staff — forced the company to back off its original proposal which would have gutted nearly all the gains won by previous generations of telecommunications workers,” Hill said in the International IBEW release.
That release said the IBEW and Verizon still are finalizing details of a separate agreement covering nearly 6,000 members in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Huber said on the IBEW website, "IBEW, Local 827 received late last night the final version of the agreement along with the agreement dealing with our strike related discipline members. The website said union officers, executive board/business agents and attorneys met to review legal options over signing the agreements. "We still have a discharged member that is not part of any return to work agreement," Huber said. "I have notified the company, that until we have some resolve, we have problems signing any agreement."
The website contains a copy of a letter from Huber, dated Sept. 18, and addressed to Goerge Cohen, director of Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services, asking for the reinstatement or "meaningful arbitration" for a union member accused of strike-related misconduct in August 2011, during the work stoppage.
The website told local union members that a Chief Stewards meeting is set for Tuesday, Sept. 25 at union headquarters and a Statewide Stewards meeting for Thursday, Sept. 27 at the Holiday Inn in East Windsor. "Ratification meetings will be scheduled during the first two weeks of October," Huber told the membership on the website.
Huber said a detailed review of the proposed agreement to all Verizon and VCS members next week, along with the schedule of ratification meetings. "Our goal is to continue working towards a resolve for our discharged members," Huber said.
Verizon Communications Inc. headquartered in New York, is an international player in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to consumer, business, government and wholesale customers.