Verizon, CWA union lock horns over pension benefits

Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and the Communications Workers of America (CWA) union continue to be at odds over how to structure pension benefits for a new labor contract. The current contract expires on Aug. 1.  

In a new update post on the union negotiations, the CWA said that Verizon's pension proposals are not acceptable.  

"After listening to 5 minutes worth of their retrogressive and insulting pension presentation/proposal, the Union made it clear to the Company that we are looking for improvements to the Pension Plans not diminishments to our retirement security," CWA said in a post.

CWA added that Verizon does not respect the members of the union and they should not accept the company's concessions.

"This Corporation has no respect for the members of our Union who have built this Company," the post continues. "All members should be as angry as the Bargaining Team. It is time for every member to make it clear to management that we are not going to accept these retrogressive demands."

Rich Young, a Verizon spokesman, told FierceTelecom in an e-mail that Verizon's labor team has been meeting with union leaders in an effort to reach "a fair agreement that meets the needs of our customers, our employees, and our company."

Young added that the unions should focus on finding a way to work towards a compromise on their issues.

"Rather than wasting time on misleading and even inaccurate bargaining reports, we suggest union leadership focus on productive negotiating sessions that result in contractual agreements that recognize the changing communications marketplace and chart a strong course for the future," Young wrote.

If a strike occurs in the event the two sides can't come to a mutual agreement, Verizon is currently training around 15,000 potential replacement workers. CWA and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) unions represent around 38,000 Verizon workers.

Verizon is currently working through a total of 27 collective bargaining agreements covering nearly 38,000 employees in its Eastern territory. In June, the service provider proposed a new agreement covering these workers that included three elements: a 2 percent wage increase effective Aug. 2, 2015; a 2 percent increase one year later; and a $1,000 lump sum payment in the third year.

For more:
- see this CWA post

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