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Verizon and two wireline unions reach tentative accord

Parties laud Gov. Cuomo, FMCS Director Cohen as instrumental in process
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Verizon (NYSE: VZ) has reached tentative three-year contract agreements with its two primary wireline unions--the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the Communications Workers of America (CWA).

More than 40,000 East Coast union workers are impacted by the two deals which were accomplished during a year-long process that included the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS). If approved by the full membership, the agreement will run through Aug. 1, 2015.

In a news release, Verizon Chief Administrative Officer Marc Reed called the agreements "fair and balanced" and "good for our employees as well as for the future of the wireline business," noting that they provide "competitive wages, valuable benefits and affordable quality health care while giving the company the new flexibility to better serve customers and become more efficient."

The unions, not ones to easily forget a year of rancor and discord which even resulted in walkouts last year, were a bit more pragmatic about the new agreements.

"We don't agree with everything in it, but it allows us to move forward and continue to fight for good middle-class jobs at Verizon in the years to come," IBEW International President Edwin Hill, who represents about 6,500 members in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and upstate New York, said in the union's news release.

The IBEW agreement, he said, showed the "strong unity of the members at the bargaining table and in the workplace—along with the impartial hand of [FMCS] Director [George] Cohen and his staff" that, in the end, "forced the company to back off its original proposal which would have gutted nearly all the gains won by previous generations of telecommunications workers."

The agreement with the CWA beat back the "most sweeping and intensive attack on our standard of living and bargaining rights in the history of the telecommunications industry," according to a statement by Chris Shelton, vice president for CWA District One, who pointed to "the unity and determination of 34,000 CWA members since bargaining began in June 2011" to produce an agreement "that preserves intact our members' pension and job security, provides for a substantial wage increase, and preserves a high quality health plan."

Shelton praised the assistance of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo who, he said in a CWA news release, "intervened on several occasions to break logjams in the negotiations"  along with Cohen, "who determinedly worked with the company and the unions for seven weeks to bridge the gaps that separated the parties and find a path to the contract."

For more:
- Verizon issued this news release
- IBEW issued this news release
- CWA issued this news release

Related articles:
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Verizon walkout looms if mediation fails; mediator says 'significant key issues' remain
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