Qwest CWA members approve strike, if needed

As expected, Communications Workers of America members employed by Denver-based Qwest Communications International voted Sunday to authorize union leadership to call a strike if ongoing negotiations fail to produce a new contract by 12:01 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 17.

The CWA said about 93 percent of voting members approved the move if it becomes necessary. Verizon Communications union members took a similar step before their contract was set to expire on Aug. 2. Negotiations with Verizon, however, were extended beyond that deadline and Verizon yesterday reached a tentative agreement on a new contract with the CWA and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

It has been 10 years since the last time union workers actually walked off their jobs at Qwest. The Qwest contract affects more than 20,000 union workers, less than one-third the number--65,000--covered by the Verizon contract. However, Qwest had wanted to reach a new contract agreement as soon as possible, with the Democratic National Convention coming to Denver later this month, and the Republican National Convention coming to Minneapolis-St. Paul next month. Qwest serves both markets.

For more:
- see this Associated Press report at the New York Times