OFS, CWA approve 4-year labor agreement, avoids potential work stoppage

OFS, a provider of fiber cables and products for the telecom industry, and the Communications Workers of America (CWA) union recently reached a new labor contract agreement.

The contract, which had expired in late May, covers nearly 300 OFS workers in Sturbridge and Norcross, Georgia, who are represented by the CWA.

Union members voted May to extend the existing contract until the end of June while CWA negotiated a new agreement. CWA said that the agreement provides for annual general wage increases that will be retroactive to the expiration of the past contract and maintains all levels of benefits for active and retired members.

"As you know, when we started the company wanted to increase our healthcare costs, premiums, reduce options and give very little in compensation to you for making this company successful," CWA said in a blog post. "Without each and every one of you helping us by mobilizing, wearing red, talking to co-workers, getting everyone ready and standing strong with your Bargaining Committee we achieved this Contract."

Specifically, the agreement will provide every CWA member with the cumulative amount in excess of 16.5 percent over the four year contract term.

Besides the general wage increase, CWA negotiated a seven day coverage differential pay as well as a $1,000 bonus during the first and third year of the contract.

CWA said it also was able to able to lock in health care costs "without substantial increases over this four year agreement." The union and OFS management was also able to create an additional medical plan, and the premium medical plan will become an option for existing and new union members.

It also made progress for retirees by making a lump sum option available for its pension plan.

Being able to garner an agreement with the CWA union is key for OFS because it can avoid potential work stoppage and any need to delay orders for its large wireline and wireless service provider customers.

At the time the former contract expired in May, the CWA union reported that workers in Sturbridge and Norcross voted to authorize a strike if a fair agreement could not be reached.

After not being able to come an agreement with the CWA and IBEW, a number of OFS' large telecom customers such as Verizon (NYSE: VZ) had to deal with order fulfillment and repair issues when their 40,000 member wireline workforce went on strike. As a result of the strike, the telco told investors that it was not able to fulfill new orders for FiOS and other business service products because its replacement workforce had to focus on network maintenance and repair.

For more:
- see this CWA blog post

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