Two unions ratify contracts with Verizon

CWA and IBEW members had been working for more than a year without contracts

Members of the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers have voted to ratify four-year contracts with Verizon Communications after contentious negotiations dating back more than a year.

The CWA contract, covering 35,000 union members from Virginia to New England, will include an 8.2 percent compounded wage increase over the next three years, the union said in a press release Friday. The IBEW contract covers 10,000 Verizon employees.

Members of the two unions engaged in a two-week strike in August 2011 after the contracts expired. Some workers were surprised when the CWA returned to work without a contract.

The new agreement came after "intensive negotiations" involving the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, the CWA said.

Under the new contact, CWA members who were fired by Verizon during the strike will return to work.

"This contract ensures that every one of our members will see an improvement in their standard of living," CWA District 1 Vice President Chris Shelton said in a statement. "It was a tough fight, and we turned back efforts by the company to gut our contracts. Now, we'll keep up the fight to expand good jobs for Verizon workers."

The CWA had reached a tentative agreement with Verizon in mid-September. The union had asked for job security provisions, including a prohibition on layoffs of workers hired before 2003 and restrictions on the company's right to relocate work out of the region. The CWA had also wanted Verizon to preserve the existing benefits package for current employees.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

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Tags business issuesChris SheltonpersonnelInternational Brotherhood of Electrical WorkerstelecommunicationCommunications Workers of AmericaVerizon Communications

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