NEW YORK - Verizon will begin the collective bargaining process this week with the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in an effort to reach agreement on new contracts for some 80,000 employees in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states.
The current contracts expire at midnight Aug. 2.
"Verizon and our unions face a challenging time in the telecommunications industry, a time that calls for creative and positive bargaining," said Ezra Singer, Verizon executive vice president-Human Resources. "Verizon is looking forward to discussing issues that are critical to our employees, our company and our customers today and into the future."
The company and the unions will be negotiating a total of 27 contracts in 13 states and the District of Columbia. The bargaining sessions will begin in the various localities between June 16 and June 30.
Bargaining will be conducted at local and common tables. Bargainers at local tables deal with issues that are specific to a certain contract or geographic area, such as work schedules, overtime requirements and the grievance process, among others. Common issues include those that affect all employees, such as wages, benefits and job security.
"We are proud of the fact that our employees are well compensated and receive health and pension benefits that are at the top tier provided in America. I can guarantee that when a contract agreement is reached, they will still be at or near the top of the pay and benefit scale compared with their peers at other companies," said Singer.
Singer noted that Verizon is at a crossroads because all facets of the industry face competition, including service substitution - the skyrocketing use of wireless, Internet and cable services in place of standard wireline services.
"Our employees understand this shift in the marketplace," he said. "The company must have the flexibility to deal with competition and many other issues so that it remains successful and the leader in the telecom industry. The challenge is being able to factor these realities into the contracts to the benefit of both the company and our employees."
Leading up to the start of bargaining, the company has been meeting with senior executives at the unions to provide information about the state of the business, competition, wages and benefits.
"Verizon's commitment during the bargaining process is to conduct respectful and responsible negotiations and to do the right thing for our employees, company and customers," Singer said.
A Fortune 10 company, 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 136.6 million access line equivalents and 33.3 million Verizon Wireless customers. Verizon is the third-largest long-distance carrier for U.S. consumers, with 13.2 million long-distance lines, and the company is also the largest directory publisher in the world, as measured by directory titles and circulation. With approximately $67 billion in annual revenues and 227,000 employees, Verizon's global presence extends to the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.