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ERIE, Pa. -- Verizon Communications has reached a final agreement on a three-year contract with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) in Pennsylvania. Members of IBEW locals 1451, 1635, 1637 and 1944 ratified the agreement Dec. 6 by a vote of 717 to 149.
The contract, effective retroactively to Oct. 28 and expiring Oct. 23, 2004, covers 1,500 employees who work in areas of the state formerly served by GTE, including Erie, Johnstown, Somerset and York.
Highlights of the final contract include a 12-percent wage increase; increases to employees' pension, medical and dental plans; addition of one holiday and creation of an adoption assistance plan.
"This agreement is a good one for our employees, our company and our customers," said Daniel J. Whelan, president of Verizon Pennsylvania. "The provisions of the contract fairly recognize and compensate our employees, while also enabling the company to better manage its resources to succeed in today's competitive telecommunications marketplace."
The agreement with the IBEW in Pennsylvania covers telephone installation and repair technicians, and call-completion and directory assistance operators. The IBEW's bargaining committee had recommended approval of the agreement to its members in November.
The 12-percent wage increase is over the three-year life of the contract, with increases of four percent the first year, five percent the second year and three percent the third year. The contract also allows employees to continue to earn an additional four percent a year through a Team Performance Award. The incentive award lets employees share in the company's success by meeting agreed-upon levels for quality customer service.
Other provisions of the ratified agreement include:
- A four-percent increase to employees' minimum pension benefits, effective July 1, 2002.
- Establishment of a new Pre-Retirement Spouse's Pension, effective July 1, 2002, that lets the surviving spouse of an employee who dies choose between the current survivor annuity or an equivalent lump-sum payment.
- Addition of one personal holiday for all employees covered by the agreement and an additional week of vacation for employees with 12 months of service, effective Jan. 1, 2002.
- An increase in the lifetime comprehensive medical plan to $2 million maximum per covered person, effective July 1, 2002. The previous out-of-network point-of-service plan had a $1 million maximum per covered person.
- Addition of 24 months of company-paid medical coverage for an employee's spouse or domestic partner and dependents in case of the employee's death.
- Waiver of the annual deductible when an employee and/or enrolled dependents use a preferred dental provider, effective July 1, 2002.
- An increase in the dental plan's lifetime Orthodontic Care maximum per covered person from $1,000 to $1,500, effective July 1, 2002.
- An increase in the dental plan's annual Preventive General & Major Services maximum per covered person from $1,000 to $1,500, effective July 1, 2002.
- Establishment of a new company-paid vision plan with no annual deductibles for employees enrolled in the company indemnity medical plan.
- An increase in the total number of weeks available for sickness and disability from 13 full weeks and 13 half weeks to 26 full weeks and 26 half weeks, based on eligibility and accredited service.
- Establishment of an option that enables employees and their families to obtain group rates via payroll deduction for automobile, home and other personal property and casualty insurance.
- 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.
"This contract will help us continue to attract and retain the best and brightest employees in the industry," said Whelan. "The IBEW and Verizon bargaining teams were able to reach an agreement in a progressive and professional manner while our front-line employees remained focused on meeting the needs of our customers.
"Verizon has had a long and positive relationship with the IBEW in Pennsylvania, and that relationship helped the company and union develop a strong contract for employees," said Whelan.
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.