Seidenberg Calls For Union-Management Partnership In New Bell Atlantic Work Force

May 3, 1997

CONTACT: Jamie DePeau (202) 336-7825

Seidenberg Calls For Union-Management Partnership In New Bell Atlantic Work Force

Must have new skills for global communications market

WASHINGTON, D.C.-- Declaring that it will be essential for the new Bell Atlantic to have a close working relationship with its unions, Ivan Seidenberg, chairman and chief executive officer of NYNEX, today called on the unions to join management in supporting a Technology Compact for the 21st Century.

The compact would establish a framework for the new corporation and its unions to address future work force needs and to ensure that workers have the training, new skills and flexibility they will need to function effectively in an industry that is continuing to undergo vast technological changes. In addition, the corporation and its unions would pledge to develop and sponsor a variety of educational and technical assistance programs for students and communities.

Seidenberg, who will be the vice chairman, president and chief operating officer of the corporation formed by the merger of Bell Atlantic and NYNEX, announced his proposal in a speech prepared for delivery to a labor conference sponsored by the Communications Workers of America and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.

"The Technology Compact for the 21st Century is ambitious, idealistic and absolutely necessary," Seidenberg said. "If we are serious about becoming a major player in the global products marketplace, then management and labor must learn to work together to intelligently manage change."

In addition, he said, management and labor "need to collectively recognize that our business is constantly evolving and learn together how to approach traditional issues in a new way."

He said that the challenges of the global marketplace would test the new Bell Atlantic's union-management relationship. "Our competitors are getting bigger and are much more nimble in responding to customer needs and new business opportunities," he said, adding that "our institutional response time" and "in many cases our productivity" need to be improved.

Seidenberg also said that "the only way to attract -- and keep -- the smartest and most creative people is to convince them that management is on their side every step of the way."

"We will instill this attitude at the new Bell Atlantic," he said.

Under the proposed technology compact, the new Bell Atlantic and its unions would work together to develop state-of-the-art education and retraining programs, Seidenberg said. These programs would be designed to expand career opportunities for all employees.

The corporation and unions would also pledge under the compact to "develop and sponsor education, technology access and community assistance programs that will prepare future generations for employment in the communications industries and full participation in the new global lifestyle."

The proposed compact also states that in the new telecommunications environment, "there is no longer lifetime job security as we once knew it. Skills, loyalty to the business, a fierce competitive spirit, service to customers all together comprise job security."

Seidenberg said that because the new corporation is "truly serious about developing a competent 21st century work force," it must focus on addressing the divisions in society created by the rapid advances in technology.

For example, he noted that while 48 percent of households with incomes of over $50,000 have computers, only seven percent of the households with incomes under $20,000 have them. And, he said, although 60 percent of the jobs in the 21st century will require information and technology skills, "only one in five of our young people looking for jobs will have these skills."

"Closing these technological divisions is the right thing to do and is good business," he said. "It ensures that future generations can find high-paying, upwardly mobile positions in the communications industry while expanding the market for global products."

Seidenberg also emphasized that "management-union relations have dramatically improved at NYNEX."

"We have negotiated two early contracts, assured job continuity, secured benefits and have offered excellent job retirement packages," he said.

In addition, he said, NYNEX has "the best training and re-education programs in the communications industry."

They include an extensive tuition reimbursement program under which more than 14,000 employees are pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees and "Next Step," an innovative program under which union-represented employees can upgrade their skills and attend college and earn a two-year Associate's Degree.

NYNEX is a global communications and media corporation that provides a full range of services in the northeastern United States and high-growth markets around the world, including the United Kingdom, Thailand, Gibraltar, Greece, Indonesia, the Philippines, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. The corporation is a leader in telecommunications, wireless communications, directory publishing and video entertainment and information services. NYNEX is also managing sponsor of FLAG -- Fiberoptic Link Around the Globe -- the world's longest undersea fiber optic communications cable.

NYNEX news releases are available on the Internet at http://www.ba.com/nr/pastnews.html or via fax for no charge at 1-800-331-1214.

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