Qwest union rejects new contract

In a rare move, Communications Workers of America members rejected a tentative contract negotiated with Qwest Communications in late August. The contract was put to a vote in recent weeks by the 20,000 or so members of the union, and the rejection sends CWA and Qwest officials back to the bargaining table to figure out what went wrong and what to do next.

There is currently no work stoppage planned, though union members had in fact authorized a strike back in August if the action became necessary. Now, the CWA and Qwest may try to extend an already expired contract a little longer.

The proposed contract promised 9.2 percent wage hikes over the next three years, but union members may have balked at the inclusion of higher health-care premiums for workers and retirees.

Qwest officials seemed baffled by the rejection, and indeed, it was not immediately clear when any large telco's union members had last rejected a newly-negotiated contract. CWA officials said they believe that hasn't happened at Qwest or its predecessors in about 40 years.

Qwest said its operations will not be affected by the news, and that it has contingency plans in place in the event of a strike.

For more:
- read this story at The Denver Post

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