CWA Reaches Agreement with Verizon that Defeats Attack on Living Standards

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NEW YORK-- The Communications Workers ofAmerica today announced a tentative agreement with Verizon Communications that protects the job security and retirement security of 34,000 members from Virginia to Massachusetts. 

A new contract has also been negotiated between Verizon Wireless and 70 CWA-represented technicians who maintain cell sites in the metropolitan New York area.

The settlement comes after a militant two-week strike when the old contract expired in August, 2011, and an ensuing 13 month on-the-job membership contract campaign.  Verizon and CWA had been engaged in intensive negotiations under the auspices of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service since July 25th, 2012.

"We stood up to the most sweeping and intensive attack on our standard of living and bargaining rights in the history of the telecommunications industry," said Chris Shelton, Vice President for CWA District One, which stretches from Maine to New Jersey.  "The unity and determination of 34,000 CWA members since bargaining began in June, 2011 has produced a new agreement that preserves intact our members' pension and job security, provides for a substantial wage increase, and preserves a high-quality health plan.

"The solidarity of CWA members and the support of our progressive allies made this contract happen," said Ed Mooney, Vice President of CWA District 2-13, which covers a total of 45,000 telecommunications and other CWA members from Pennsylvania to Virginia. "Verizon workers will keep their standard of living and the benefits and working conditions we've fought for over the years."

Shelton added, "I want to extend my gratitude to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who intervened on several occasions to break logjams in the negotiations.  His assistance was crucial to reaching this agreement. And I want to thank George Cohen, the director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, who determinedly worked with the company and the unions for seven weeks to bridge the gaps that separated the parties and to find a path to a contract."

The union bargaining teams credited the mobilization of tens of thousands of members and allies throughout the labor and progressive communities in making a big difference in the negotiations.  CWA is hopeful that the agreements will lead to additional investment and jobs going forward.

Highlights of the new agreement include:

- Preservation of existing job security language, including a prohibition on layoffs of workers hired before 2003 and restrictions on the company's right to relocate work out of the region.

- Preservation of provisions of the contract which restrict the company's right to reassign workers long distances from their homes.

- Preservation of the existing defined benefit pension plan for all current employees. 

The workers at Verizon Wireless negotiated a contract containing no concessions and substantial wage increases.

Additional details of the agreement are beingwithheld until local unions have an opportunity to present them to members in meetings and at work locations over the next several days.  Specifics of the ratification process have not been finalized, but voting will take approximately one month to complete.

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Moira Herbst

BerlinRosen Public Affairs

646-452-5637 (office)

917-743-6350 (cell)

Twitter: @moira0101