Verizon, unions extend talks, put off strike

Verizon Communications and the Communications Workers of America and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers unions agreed to extend negotiations just after midnight Saturday, and the unions agreed to postpone a strike. The CWA, which represents about 50,000 of the 65,000 workers affected, issued a statement saying that progress has been made on issues such as job security and ongoing funding of health care coverage for active and retired workers, but also that further discussion was need to work toward a contract settlement.

Verizon also issued a statement saying it continues "to negotiate in good faith to achieve new contracts for our employees."

Many of the employees affected work in support of Verizon's landline business, and it is worth noting that this particular round of contract negotiations comes at a time landline units across the industry continue to lose revenue steam, while wireless units are becoming the more powerful revenue engines for big telcos. Some wireless units, however, contain fewer union employees. Also, companies like Verizon have started to migrate jobs that once were unionized to non-union contractors.

Such industry trends suggest that telco-union contract negotiations will continue to be heated in the future, as clout shifts and both sides make new demands of one another that perhaps have not been major issues in earlier contract talks.

For more:
- read this report at The New York Times