CWA says Verizon's initial union contract proposals are a 'smokescreen'

A leader of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) District 1 says that Verizon's (NYSE: VZ) initial proposal to offer pay increases in a three-year proposed contract are nothing more than a way to shield the fact that they want a number of concessions on key issues such as medical, pensions and job security.

CWA union Verizon 2015

New York-area Verizon workers march from Portchester to Rye, N.Y. on the opening day of contract negotiations. (Source: CWA)

During the first day of union negotiations on Monday, Verizon offered a new three-year contract with 38,000 union wireline employees represented by the CWA and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) that it says will deliver wage increases during the period.

CWA District 1 Vice President Dennis Trainor said in a statement that Verizon's proposal would actually do more harm than good.

"Verizon's claims about the pay increases they put on the bargaining table yesterday are simply a smokescreen designed to hide the harsh reality of their concessionary demands; deep cuts to pension benefits, skyrocketing increases in medical costs, and the complete elimination of job security," Trainor said. "Despite $9.6 billion in profits in 2014 and $44 million in compensation to their top five executives, Verizon wants to eliminate middle-class jobs and let customer service deteriorate."

Trainor added that Verizon's proposal would actually cut thousands of jobs, while giving current CWA members what he calls a "diminished standard of living."

In a joint letter sent to CWA members, Trainor and CWA D2-13 Vice President Ed Mooney said that Verizon was trying to offset current workers' move to get a fair contract and that its wireline and wireless business are not separate entities.

"Verizon pretends that the wireline business is separate from the wireless business," they wrote. "Wireless and wireline are the same business. It is one company and one telephone system. There is no wireless business without wireline."

As the two sides have entered the negotiation process both parties have been taking jabs at one another.

CWA and IBEW representatives have made allegations about Verizon not properly maintaining its existing copper networks and falling behind on its FiOS buildout commitments in New York City.

However, Verizon shot back that the audit in New York City contains erroneous information and that the union's allegations about its copper network are nothing more than a tactic they are using to advance the contract union contract bargaining process.  

For more:
- see this CWA post

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