Frontier, IBEW hammer out new labor contract in Western states

Frontier has taken another step forward with its union negotiations, announcing that it has reached a collective bargaining agreement through binding interest arbitration in its California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington markets represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, AFL-CIO (IBEW) Local Unions 89 and 543.

Covering nearly 1,000 union employees, including a mix of technicians, call-center consultants and other employees, the new agreement goes into effect immediately and expires in May 2017.

Getting to this point was not easy.

Frontier and IBEW spent over 14 months at the bargaining table to address issues that were relevant to both sides, including improving the customer experience and operational efficiencies; addressing intense competition in the telecommunication industry during challenging economic times; maintaining a work force focused on Frontier's core telecommunication activities; hiring and retaining the best employees; job security; and providing competitive wages and benefits.

One of the key provisions of the agreement is that Frontier promised to continue operating its Contact Center and Fiber Assignment and Support Center in Everett, Washington, for the duration of the new labor agreement. Frontier said that its guarantee to keep this center open reaffirms the telco's focus on maintaining an all-U.S.-based work force.

Pay raises included in the agreement are retroactive to May 26, 2013. In addition, the two sides developed a new health-care plan that will offer quality care while "controlling ever-increasing health care costs with a joint IBEW-Employer sponsored Family Medical Care Plan."

Frontier continues to make progress in garnering new agreements with its union workers. In 2013 the telco reached an agreement with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) union covering over 1,100 employees in five Midwest states after seven months of negotiations, and it reached another agreement with the CWA union representing 200 of the carrier's employees in Pennsylvania.

The service provider has also gained union support in its home state of Connecticut, one of the major hurdles it had to clear in moving ahead with its pending acquisition of AT&T's wireline network infrastructure in the state. Connecticut CWA Local 1298 President William Henderson III gave his support for the deal in July. Initially, Henderson opposed the sale because he said neither Frontier nor AT&T (NYSE: T) had issued a whole lot of information about their business plans.

For more:
- see the release

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