THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. - Verizon Communications and the Communications Workers of America (CWA) District 9 reached tentative agreement Dec. 23 on a new five-year labor contract in California.
The contract covers approximately 6,500 California hourly-paid employees, chiefly technicians, customer service representatives and operators, who work here, in Long Beach and in dozens of communities throughout the state.
The company and the union agreed to conduct early and expedited bargaining for a contract that was due to expire on March 19, 2005. Bargaining on the new contract began on Dec. 6. Upon ratification by the union membership, which is expected within the next few weeks, the new contract will run through March 13, 2010.
The agreement will mark the first five-year labor contract for Verizon and its predecessor companies in California. Traditionally, contracts have been for three years.
The agreement provides a 4-percent lump-sum payment on March 20, 2005, to union-represented employees. In addition, base wages will increase 1 percent in the first year, 2 percent in the second year, and then 2.5 percent in each of the third, fourth and final year of the contract.
"The tentative agreement improves wages and delivers a strong overall benefits package for our employees," said Larry Mortensen, who headed 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.
- Creation of a new job classification -- 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 California communities. Verizon announced plans to expand its fiber-to-the-premises initiative to California last summer.
- Improvement of benefits for employees and retirees -- Company-provided contributions for retiree medical insurance will be increased, and general improvements were provided for current employees, including the establishment of a voluntary long-term care benefit and increased "opt out" credits for employees and their eligible dependents. In addition, pension minimum levels will be increased.
- Addition of one personal holiday -- Effective Jan. 1, 2008, employees will receive one additional paid holiday, bringing to seven the number of personal holidays employees can take annually.
Key elements of the proposed agreement include:
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. With a diverse work force of approximately 208,000, Verizon has four business units: Domestic Telecom serves customers based in 29 states with wireline telecommunications services, including broadband, nationwide long-distance and other services. Verizon Wireless owns and operates the nation's most reliable wireless network, serving 42.1 million voice and data customers across the United States. Information Services operates directory publishing businesses and provides electronic commerce services. International includes wireline and wireless operations and investments, primarily in the Americas and Europe. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.