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NEW YORK - Verizon laid off employees in New York State in December 2002, citing difficult business conditions facing the company. The unions have a right to challenge layoffs through the normal contractual arbitration process under the labor contracts. Communications Workers of America District 1 filed such an arbitration case in 2002. The following statement may be attributed to Verizon.
"An arbitrator today ruled that Verizon-New York's layoff of associates in December 2002 was not permitted under the labor agreement between the company and the Communications Workers of America.
"The company is disappointed with the arbitrator's decision. The company believes that it followed the contract in laying off employees. It disagrees with the arbitrator's interpretation of the agreement.
"The decision does not change the need for the company to address the challenges facing the business. The difficult business conditions facing the company - the same conditions that caused the layoffs - all remain. The company and unions will have to address job security issues in the current bargaining to match them to the changing telecommunications industry.
"The current labor agreement between Verizon-NY and its unions states that the company may lay off employees due to significant external events that directly reduce the need for a large number of employees but not due to company initiated process changes developed to improve efficiency. The unions have a right to challenge layoffs through the normal contractual arbitration process under the labor contracts. CWA District 1 filed such an arbitration case in 2002.
"The company explained to the arbitrator that the layoffs were due to the external events of a tough economy, increasing competition, customers substituting new services such as wireless and broadband for landline service, adverse regulatory rulings, and structural changes in the telecom industry.
"The arbitrator found in this case that the external events cited by the company were not discrete events that resulted in the reduction of particular, identifiable work, and, therefore, did not satisfy the criteria of 'external event' in the contract.
"As a result of this ruling, the company was ordered to reinstate the 2,312 NY laid off employees and make them whole under the terms of their contracts and to return forced transferred employees to their former locations. There are 1,129 employees who were laid off in other states, and those layoffs are pending arbitration in those states.
"The company is currently reviewing the details of the decision and will work toward implementing the arbitrator's ruling."