CWA, IBEW, Verizon make progress on main issues

Verizon’s unions are reporting “slow but significant progress” in talks aimed at averting a strike by the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers against Verizon Communications. The two sides have extended an Aug. 2 contract and continued talks.

A local union head in New York told Newsday that agreement had been reached on the issues of health care coverage for active and retired members, wages, and outsourcing jobs.

But, said George Bloom, president of CWA Local 1104, the issues of subcontracting jobs and efforts to organize employees of Verizon Business and Verizon Wireless still had a “ways to go.” The issue of organizing Verizon Business and Verizon Wireless workers—where much of the company’s strongest and most profitable growth has been—has been a contentious one.

"They have fought us every step of the way on any organizing drive we started," Bloom said. The unions, meanwhile, have agreed to work under the old contract while talks continue but have said they’re “ready to walk" at anytime if negotiations bog down, "and the company knows it.” The two unions cover about 65,000 workers from New England to Virginia.

For its part, Verizon says it is “fully engaged” in talks and that business was proceedng as usual with repairs and installations proceeding on schedule and no impact being felt on telephone service.

For more:
- See the story in Newsday