Verizon, unions in tentative labor contracts

Reuters Business News
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Posted: Sep 19, 2012 4:32 PM

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Verizon Communications <VZ.N> and two unions have reached tentative agreements for labor contracts covering about 43,000 workers after more than a year of negotiations and a strike.

The telephone company said the contracts with the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers would run through August 1, 2015, if they are approved by the workers.

Verizon and the unions entered mediation talks about two months ago because they had not reached an agreement after the months of negotiations that followed a two-week strike in August 2011.

The company and its unions had fought bitterly over issues such as pension and healthcare contributions.

Verizon was looking to slash its costs in its wireline business to counter a steady stream of customer phone disconnections in recent years as consumers have favored cellphones over home phones. But the union had complained it asked for too many concessions.

The CWA, which represents 34,000 of the workers in question, said that the new contract preserved previous job security language and the existing defined pension plan for all its current employees.

Verizon did not provide details of the terms of the agreement but said it would be good for the company and its employees.

A Verizon spokesman declined to comment on the financial impact of the new agreement.

"It provides competitive wages, valuable benefits and affordable quality health care while giving the company new flexibility to better serve customers and become more efficient." Verizon's Chief Administrative Officer said.

(Reporting by Sinead Carew; Editing by Gary Hill and Sofina Mirza-Reid)