Verizon, Union Talks Continue After 'Intensive' Five Weeks
Negotiations moved to undisclosed location in New York.
Five weeks of "intensive negotiations" between Verizon and two unions representing thousands of employees in the Northeast, including the IBEW and CWA in New Jersey, have led to progress on a number of issues, a federal mediator said in a statement on Friday.
However, "a number of issues remain to resolved," according to the statement by Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Director George H. Cohen. The statement said the both parties, in discussions regarding a new contract to replace one that expired in August 2011, will continue to meet to resolve those final issues. The meeting place is said to be an undisclosed location in New York.
Cohen's statement was passed along by William Huber, president and business manager of IBEW Local 827, which represents about 5,600 wireline workers in New Jersey. The Communications Workers of America union represents thousands more in the state, union officials said.
While Huber confirmed on Saturday morning that the negotiations continue, he said a blackout remains in place prohibiting either side from disclosing details about the discussions.
At several points during the past year, union representatives demonstrated across the street from the Verizon headquarters in Basking Ridge. But Huber said earlier in August that no demonstrators had been back to the location while federal negotiations were underway.
The Friday statement from Cohen said, "As of this date, the parties now have been engaged in intensive negotiations for five weeks under the auspices of myself and Director of Mediation Services John Pinto.
As previously reported, progress continues to be made; but a number of issues
remain to be resolved. Pursuant to the mediators’ recommendation, the parties have agreed to continue their negotiations until concluded at an undisclosed location in New York," the statement.
A Verizon spokesman, Lee Gierczynski, said on Saturday that he had nothing to add to the statement.
Verizon and unions that represent about 45,000 workers began meeting in late July in Washington D.C., less than two weeks before the one-year anniversary of the expiration of the previous contract in Aug. 6, 2011.
Health benefits, job security and pay were among the issues in dispute during contract negotiations, according to previous statements by both parties.
According to a website report posted for CWA Local 1106 in Queens, N.Y, "Negotiations between Verizon and CWA and IBEW under the auspices of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) have been going on for over a month, beginning on July 27th, and continuing through today. The parties have broken for the weekend, and will resume bargaining on Tuesday in New York.
All parties are continuing to abide by the mediator’s request for a blackout on the specific details of negotiations. However, we can report that significant, though painstaking, progress has been made on a number of major issues in the bargaining. A number of critical issues remain unresolved, and will be addressed when bargaining resumes."