Verizon and CWA Reach Tentative Agreement on New Three-Year Contract in California
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THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Verizon Communications has reached a tentative agreement on a new three-year contract with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) in California.
Capitalizing on their strong relationship, Verizon and CWA began negotiating more than four months before the current contract expires March 16, 2002 and reached tentative agreement with more than three months remaining on the current pact.
The tentative agreement includes a 12 percent wage increase over the three-year contract, with increases of 4 percent each year for the union-represented employees. The contract covers 7,900 employees throughout the state and is the largest labor contract in the former GTE service area.
"The fact that we were able to begin negotiations so far in advance and reach an agreement relatively quickly speaks to Verizon's solid relationship with the CWA in California," said Ron Johnson, 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 tentative agreement mirrors similar pacts reached earlier this year between Verizon and the CWA covering 4,200 employees in Texas and 645 employees in Washington and Idaho.
The agreement with the CWA in California covers employees -- principally technicians and customer service representatives -- who work in Verizon's service area throughout the state. Most of the Verizon employees represented by the CWA in California work in Los Angeles, Ventura and Orange counties and the Inland Empire region.
The CWA intends to submit the tentative agreement to the employees it represents soon. A simple majority of those voting is required for ratification. Once ratified, the new contract will go into effect when the current contract expires at midnight March 16, 2002.
"The proposed settlement will help us continue to attract and retain qualified employees who place outstanding customer service foremost in their mind," said Johnson. "The CWA and Verizon bargaining teams were able to reach an agreement in a progressive and professional manner while the workforce remained focused on meeting the needs of our customers. Verizon has a long and positive relationship with the CWA in California, and we are gratified that employees can now vote on this proposed settlement."
In addition to the wage increases, other provisions of the proposed agreement include:
- 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 4 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.
- Renewal of incentive plans for business sales center, retail sales, public communications and consumer sales personnel that recognize employees for their success in customer sales and service.
- Increase of the lifetime comprehensive medical plan maximum to $2 million per covered individual, effective July 2002. The current plan provides $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 the employee.
- Incorporation of mail-order prescription benefits and removal of the deductible for "out of area" participants, effective July 2002.
- 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 the annual deductible when an employee and/or enrolled dependents use a preferred dental provider, effective January 2003.
- Increase of the lifetime orthodontic care maximum to $1,500 per covered person, 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.
- Creation of a new hearing-aid benefit, effective January 2003.
- Creation of a trial program allowing employees to donate vacation time to coworkers experiencing catastrophic illness or injury themselves or in their immediate family.
Verizon employs approximately 14,000 people in California and is the third largest private employer in Ventura County with almost 3,000 employees.
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 128.5 million access line equivalents and 28.7 million wireless customers. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world. A Fortune 10 company with 256,000 employees and approximately $65 billion in annual revenues, Verizon's global presence extends to more than 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.