For Qwest unions, modest pay hikes, modest health care losses

With a little give and take on the key sticking point--health care--Qwest and its unions managed to put together a deal before next week's Democratic National Convention comes to the telco's hometown of Denver.

The sides agreed to a 9 percent raise over three years for the 21,000 employees represented by the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and an increase in base pay for sales staff. Qwest also agreed to a 3 percent bump in pension payouts.

The unions gave up some of their near-model contract health care provisions, agreeing to pay a modest premium. In the past Qwest union workers had paid only an enrollment fee. Union members also will have a choice of plans.

Both sides say the looming DNC played a factor in negotiations.

For more:
- See the Colorado Springs Gazette story
- Or the Wall Street Journal story