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IRVING, Texas - Verizon Communications late Thursday reached a tentative agreement on a new three-year contract with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) in Texas. The contract covers 4,200 employees throughout the state and is the third largest labor contract in the former GTE operating territory.
"This tentative agreement provides competitive wages and benefits for employees and provides Verizon the flexibility and capabilities necessary to thrive in a highly competitive environment," 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 agreement with the CWA in Texas covers employees -- principally technicians and customer service representatives -- who work in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, San Angelo, Bryan/College Station, League City, Baytown and hundreds of other communities throughout the state.
The CWA intends to submit the tentative agreement to its represented employees soon. If the proposed contract is ratified by Sept. 22, the wage increases will be retroactive to Aug. 19. 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 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 Texas, and we are gratified that employees can now vote on this proposed settlement."
The basic terms of the agreement call for a 12 percent wage increase over the three-year contract, with increases of 4 percent each year for nearly 2,600 of the union-represented employees. Approximately 1,400 employees who work in rural areas of the state will receive an 18 percent wage increase over the three-year life of the contract, with increases of 6 percent each year, to bring their pay scale in line with the wages in urban areas.
A separate contract -- covering 200 employees at Verizon Logistics, a unit that provides materials handling, storage and administrative services -- will mirror the larger contract once ratified.
In addition, the proposed contract offers an additional 4 percent increase in the second year of the contract to residential and business customer service representatives who work at large call centers in North Texas. The increase recognizes their importance to the success of customer sales and service; will help the company retain skilled, motivated employees, and will help reduce turnover, stress and the need for overtime in the centers.
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.
- Improved flexibility in how employees can take vacation. Employees with five years of service will now be allowed to take two weeks of their vacation selection on a "day at a time" basis.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Creation of a new employee classification for slightly more than 100 employees, resulting in a higher base pay.
Verizon employs about 17,500 people in Texas and is one of the largest employers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area with 14,500 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 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.