Can You Hear Me Now? Verizon, Unions Settle
Verizon has reached an agreement with the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which represent about 65,000 Verizon employees in the Northeastern United States.
The settlement, which replaces a contract that expired Saturday, now goes for ratification to union members, who had previously authorized a strike if the need arose.
The CWA says the settlement "Provides New Union Jobs, Protects Health Care for Active and Retired Workers, Boosts Wages, Pensions for 65,000." While the union portrays the deal as a series of management concessions, Market Watch says the parties "agreed to change the way [health care costs] are paid for future retirees who started working at the company after August 2." Verizon will contribute a "fixed dollar amount based on their years of service" to the late-comers, and longer-serving employees will keep what appears to be a more generous plan. Still, no one lost his job, the unions added new members, and wages and pension bands will increase.
Verizon stocks rose on the news, which must relieve its directors, because the company could use a break about now. ZDnet reports that "the cable industry is winning share in broadband, phone and TV connections and handily thwarting encroachment by the likes of Verizon and AT&T." And last month the company agreed to pay $21 million to settle a class-action suit brought by ex-customers who disputed the fairness of their termination fees. It's just not a great time to be a phone company. More on the telcos' woes here.