IRVING, Texas -- Verizon and the Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 6171 reached tentative agreement today at 1:30 a.m. on a new five-year labor contract in Texas.
The contract covers approximately 3,100 Texas hourly-paid employees, chiefly technicians and customer service representatives, who work in North Texas, the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, the Hill Country, San Angelo, Bryan/College Station, League City, Baytown, the Gulf Coast and Rio Grande regions, and hundreds of communities throughout the state.
Bargaining on the contract began on July 7. The previous contract expired at midnight Sunday.
The agreement provides an immediate 4 percent lump-sum payment to union-represented employees in the first year of the contract. In addition, base wages will increase 1 percent in the first year, 2 percent in the second year, 2.5 percent in the third year, 2.5 percent in the fourth year, and 2.5 percent in the final year of the contract.
"The tentative agreement improves wages and delivers a strong overall benefits package for our employees," said Ron Johnson, co-chair of the Verizon bargaining committee. "At the same time, the five-year term of the new contract will provide valuable stability for both employees and Verizon. It also will position us to continue delivering outstanding service to our customers and outstanding value to our shareholders."
The tentative agreement also includes new provisions that allow Verizon to compete more successfully over the long term against cable companies.
Donna Bentley, CWA bargaining committee chair, said: "The bargaining we and the company conducted since early July is a model for labor negotiations. We focused on gaining the best possible set of wages, benefits and work rules for our members, while realizing that Verizon must have the flexibility to compete against all forms of communications companies and new technologies."
Bentley said the CWA bargaining committee will recommend ratification of the tentative agreement to its members, with results expected by mid-September. A simple majority of those voting is required for ratification. Upon ratification, the new contract will be effective from Aug. 15, 2004, through Aug. 15, 2009.
Key elements of the proposed agreement include:
- Creation of two new job classifications -- A new job classification, fiber network field technician, will be established to perform installation and technical support involving Verizon's soon-to-be-offered Fios set of products and services over its fiber-optic network in Keller and other North Texas communities. Verizon last month announced plans to expand its fiber-to-the-premises initiative to California and Florida. In addition, a term employee designation has been established - with full benefits and union membership eligibility - to provide an in-house option for handling seasonal or peak work requirements. These positions may be staffed from 6 to 36 months.
- Improvement of benefits for employees and retirees -- Employees served by the medical plans in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and Central and West Texas region will see increased provider options. In addition, company-provided contributions for retiree medical insurance will be increased. Pension minimum levels will be increased.
- Addition of one personal holiday -- Effective Jan. 1, 2007, employees will receive one additional paid holiday, bringing to 14 the number of holidays employees can take annually.
The company and the union also agreed to form joint committees to discuss issues such as Fios jobs of the future, overtime, incentive compensation, diversity and education/training.
Separately, negotiations continue between Verizon and the CWA for a contract involving 114 employees in Texas who work in the company's Supply Chain Service organization, which handles logistics functions. The smaller contract expires at midnight on Aug. 21.
A Dow 30 company, Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services, with approximately $68 billion in annual revenues. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world, as measured by directory titles and circulation. Verizon's international presence includes wireline and wireless communications operations and investments, primarily in the Americas and Europe. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.