EVERETT, Wash. - Verizon Communications late Thursday, Sept. 13, reached a tentative agreement on a new three-year contract with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) in Idaho and Eastern Washington. The contract covers 645 employees throughout the two states. The current agreement expires on Oct. 6, 2001. Upon approval the new three-year agreement will be effective from Oct. 7, through Oct. 2, 2004.
"This tentative agreement provides competitive wages and benefits for employees in the Northwest and provides Verizon the flexibility and capabilities necessary to thrive in a highly competitive environment," said Fonda Downs, manager of Verizon labor relations for the Northwest and Verizon's chief negotiator. "The provisions of this contract will allow us to raise our standards of performance and workplace productivity, enabling us to provide even better service to our customers."
The agreement with the CWA in Idaho and Eastern Washington covers employees -- principally technicians and representatives -- who work in communities such as the Coeur d'Alene, Sandpoint and Moscow, Idaho and Wenatchee and Kennewick, Wash.
The CWA intends to submit the tentative agreement to its membership for ratification soon. If the proposed contract is ratified by Oct. 19, the wage increases will be retroactive to Oct. 7. A simple majority of those voting is required for ratification.
"The proposed settlement will help us continue to attract and retain qualified employees who place outstanding customer service foremost in their mind," said Downs.
The basic terms of the agreement call for a 12-percent wage increase over the three-year contract, with increases of four percent each year for the 645 hourly employees.
- Continuation of a team performance award plan that rewards employees for meeting higher service, performance and other standards. Under this program, union-represented employees in various business units can earn bonuses of up to four percent of their base pay if their team meets the objectives established by the business unit.
- Addition of one personal holiday, effective Jan. 1, 2002, bringing to 13 the number of holidays employees can take each year, with improved flexibility in how employees can take personal holidays.
- Incentive plans for retail sales and public communications that recognize employees for their success in customer sales and service.
- Increased the lifetime comprehensive medical plan maximum to $2 million per covered individual, effective July 2002. The previous plan was $1 million per covered individual.
- Addition of 24 months of company-paid medical coverage for an employee's spouse (or domestic partner) and dependents in case of the death of an active employee.
- Improved short-term disability benefits by increasing the number of paid absent days due to illness for employees with more than 10 years of service.
- Establishment of a $500 annual "opt-out" credit for employees who elect not to enroll themselves or their eligible dependents in a company-sponsored medical plan or HMO, effective January 2003.
- Waiver of annual deductible when an employee and/or enrolled dependents use a preferred dental provider, effective January 2003.
- Increase per covered person of the lifetime orthodontic care maximum to $1,500, effective January 2003.
- Creation of an adoption assistance plan, effective July 1, 2002, that provides up to $10,000 for authorized expenses related to the adoption of a child.
- Establishment of a vision plan, effective July 1, 2002, that provides reimbursement for eye exams and the purchase of eyeglasses and contact lenses.
Other provisions of the proposed agreement include:
Verizon employs about 4,000 people in the Northwest.
Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States, with 125 million access line equivalents and approximately 28 million wireless customers. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world. A Fortune 10 company with about 260,000 employees and more than $65 billion in annual revenues, Verizon's global presence extends to 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.