Bell Atlantic Announces Details of Tentative Agreement with CWA
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January 22, 1996
BELL ATLANTIC ANNOUNCES DETAILS OF COMMON ISSUES
AGREEMENT WITH CWA, LOCAL ISSUES REMAIN UNRESOLVED
Tentative Agreement Offers Employment Security While
Increasing Flexibility for Company
Arlington, VA -- Bell Atlantic today announced details of the
tentative common issues settlement reached with the Communications
Workers of America (CWA). Negotiations on local issues are
When Bell Atlantic and the union come to an agreement on all issues,
the offer will go to the company's 34,400 CWA-represented employees
for a vote, with results due within four weeks.
The common issues agreement offers wage increases of 10.6 percent over
three years, a $1,500 ratification bonus, improved benefits and
pensions, and the best employment security package offered by a
regional Bell company in the latest round of bargaining, according to
Lawrence T. Babbio, Jr., Bell Atlantic vice chairman.
"This agreement balances improved employment security with increased
flexibility for the company. It keeps Bell Atlantic wages and
benefits among the best in the business," Babbio said. "We
what we set out to do and that was essential to the success of our
employees, the union and the company in an increasingly competitive
Tentative agreement on common issues was reached Jan. 11.
Negotiations on local issues have continued since that date as the
parties seek to reach a final agreement on issues that have divided
the parties over six months of often difficult negotiations.
Major features of the common issues agreement are:
- wage increases totaling 10.6 per cent
- a ratification bonus of $1,500
- team-based incentives of up to 5 per cent of base wages, with no
base wages at risk
- broadband work commitments and phase out of contractors doing this
- CWA representation in the new competitive subsidiary, Bell Atlantic
Communications and Construction Services, Inc. (BACCSI), under a new
labor agreement between CWA and BACCSI
- layoff protection for certain job titles where BACCSI is operating
- double the cash incentives-up to a maximum of $60,000-for employees
who leave the company prior to layoff in their work group/job title
- pension increases of 4 percent for current retirees and increases in
pension levels of 12 per cent over three years for current employees
when they retire
- a new retiree health care plan for employees retiring after 1989
- many new wellness benefits
- trials of a four-day work week and home garaging.
"The unique provisions of our common issues agreement will allow us
economically deploy our full service network and compete on a equal
footing with cable companies and others for the inside wiring and
telephone equipment business," said James G. Cullen, Bell Atlantic
vice chairman. "It's an opportunity to create work and jobs.
"These were difficult negotiations because we needed to position
ourselves for the future," said Cullen. "Both sides made
and we achieved our key goals."
Cullen, Babbio and CWA International President Morton Bahr joined
informal negotiations on several occasions during the final weeks of
talks on common issues.
Under the proposed agreement, wages would increase 10.6 percent, with
3.3 percent effective Dec. 31, 1995, 3.6 percent effective Dec. 29,
1996 and 3.7 percent effective Dec. 28, 1997.
The 12 percent pension increase includes a 10 percent increase
retroactive to Sept. 30, 1995, a 1 percent increase Jan 1, 1997 and
another 1 percent increase Jan. 1, 1998.
"We have significantly improved employment security for our
technicians while giving our local phone companies greater flexibility
to help us compete more effectively and be more responsive to
customers," said Tyler Williams, Bell Atlantic vice president-labor
Employment security provisions include:
- Nearly all broadband work on the distribution elements of
Atlantic's network would be assigned to bargaining unit technicians
in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, the District of Columbia and
Delaware. Contractors doing this work would be phased out.
Pennsylvania technicians already have similar security protections.
- Prior to a layoff of systems technicians, cable splicing
technicians, service technicians or outside plant technicians in
Network Operations, Bell Atlantic will terminate contracting for
similar work within 35 miles of the affected locations in Maryland,
Virginia, West Virginia, the District of Columbia and Delaware.
- The CWA will represent technical employees in Bell Atlantic
Communications and Construction Services, Inc. (BACCSI) in Maryland,
Virginia, West Virginia, the District of Columbia and Delaware under
a new labor agreement between CWA and BACCSI. BACCSI is a
subsidiary of Bell Atlantic which will install cable from the
neighborhood terminal to the customer's home and perform related
work inside the home at very competitive labor rates.
- Outside plant technicians, systems technicians and cable splicing
technicians would be protected against layoff where BACCSI is
- Copper splicing work would be assigned to core technicians in
Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia and
the use of contractors would be phased out.
- In Pennsylvania, the company would guarantee 504 outside plant
technician positions for the term of the contract and technicians in
those jobs would be protected from layoffs. The company would gain
the flexibility to use outside plant technicians for repair work
also performed by services technicians.
- The company will double the cash incentives-up to a maximum of
$60,000-which must be offered to employees who leave the company
voluntarily prior to a layoff in their job title or work
A new retiree health care plan would replace the previous plan agreed
to by the CWA and Bell Atlantic in 1989 and 1992. It affects only
employees retiring after 1989. The plan would offer the same managed
care medical plan options that are in place today to retirees under
age 65, with the company continuing to pay all premiums at least until
Beginning in 1998, retirees and their dependents age 65 or older would
be covered by a new senior managed care plan designed for
Medicare-eligible retirees. There would be no annual deductibles and
low out-of-pocket costs.
A separate agreement was reached between the union and Bell Atlantic's
long distance subsidiary, Bell Atlantic Communications, Inc. (formerly
known as BALDI). The agreement provides ground rules for union
organizing campaigns, including limited access for union organizers
and expedited union elections, but not company neutrality.
Negotiations between Bell Atlantic and the CWA began June 13. CWA
members have been working at Bell Atlantic without a contract since
the expiration of the previous three-year agreement Aug. 5, 1995.
The CWA represents approximately 34,400 Bell Atlantic employees in
Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia
and Washington, D.C.
Bell Atlantic Corporation (NYSE: BEL) is at the forefront of the new
communications, entertainment and information industry. In the
mid-Atlantic region, the company is the premier provider of local
telecommunications and advanced services. Globally, it is one of the
largest investors in the high-growth wireless communication
marketplace. Bell Atlantic also owns a substantial interest in
Telecom Corporation of New Zealand and is actively developing
high-growth national and international business opportunities in all
phases of the industry.
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