Clock ticking down in Qwest, union negotiations

The clock is ticking, and both Qwest and its unions are getting ready for a strike if negotiators don’t bring home a contract this weekend. The 20,000 members of the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers who work for Qwest in 13 Western states are unlikely to take immediate action.  But both Qwest and the unions are preparing just in case.

The current contract expires at 12:01 a.m. Sunday, and Qwest spokesman Bob Toevs says the company has a contingency plan in place to maintain service if there is a strike.

in Idaho Falls, Idaho, union reps have been handing out T-shirts and signing workers up for strike benefits. According to CWA member Jennifer Winterbottom, "Everything's kind of up in the air right now … Striking does not benefit anybody. … It's just one way for us to make a stand and say, hey, we deserve better, we help you make money, you need to help us."

The main issues in the negotiations are health care benefits and job security.

Verizon and its unions—the CWA and IBEW—recently reached a tentative agreement on a new deal that many observers say was far more beneficial for Verizon that union members.

For more:
See the story from KPVI

Related articles:

Qwest unions approve strike. Qwest union report
Strike authorization appeared imminent last week. Strike report
Qwest wants contract talks settled. Qwest contract report
Qwest scrambles as DNC nears. Qwest report
Qwest battles retirees over insurance. Qwest retiree report