How long will unions wait for Verizon deal?

Sure they’ve stopped the clock, and both sides were back at the bargaining table yesterday until 10:30 p.m. last night, and they plan to go back to talks this morning, but the big question, after a week of stop-and-go neotiations, is: How long will the Communications Workers of America and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers be willing to wait for a new contract to be hammered out?

Verizon spokesman Alberto Canal said the telco remains “optimistic that we will reach an agreement.” But Candice Johnson, a CWA spokeswoman, said that while some progress has been made, a lot of issues—especially employment issues—remain as sticking points. Among the major issues still getting in the way of a deal are Verizon's demand for major increases in worker payments for health-care coverage and the proposed elimination of retiree health-care coverage for new hires.

Some 65,000 CWA and IBEW workers agreed to continue working after the old agreement expired Saturday night. Union members have increased their informational picketing in New York and New Jersey, as well as in Washington, D.C.