Verizon presents 'last, best final' labor contract offer to wireline union workers

Verizon (NYSE: VZ) has put what it says is a final labor contract proposal on the table for wireline workers represented by the CWA and IBEW.

The proposal, which covers about 36,000 wireline workers in Verizon's Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, comes at a time when employees are on strike after failing to come to an agreement for a new labor contract.

Verizon increased its wage offer to 7.5 percent over the term of the contract. Additionally, Verizon is offering ongoing access to healthcare what it says is an affordable cost and retirement benefits.

"We're putting our last, best final offer on the table, one that provides the foundation for quality jobs now and in the future," said Marc Reed, Verizon's chief administrative officer, in a release. "From the beginning, our goal has been to reach an agreement that's fair to our employees, good for our customers and helps our company better compete in the digital world. This offer meets those objectives. A better offer would be hard to find."

Specially, the proposals include provisions for job security, retirement benefits, and health care.

Contingent upon the agreement that Verizon will be able get increased flexibility in managing and deploying its workforce through measures such as voluntary retirement incentive offers and other workforce flexibility changes, the company said employees will be able to retain job security for the term of the new contract.

Verizon will offer two sets of retirement plans for different sets of employees. One group will be able to get a 401k match. Meanwhile, employees that are eligible to participate in Verizon's pension plan will get annual increases that will be subject to a 30-year cap.

On the health care front, Verizon will offer increased contributions and some plan design changes that it said "will help in efforts to better manage escalating costs."

In addition, the new labor contract offer includes Verizon's proposals related to call routing, contracting, and temporary work assignments.

CWA did not respond to a request from FierceTelecom for a comment and they have not yet issued a statement about the latest proposal.

Verizon maintains that during the strike, which is now on its 16th day, the company has been able to continue perform necessary maintenance and service installation by having other employees filling in at call centers, outside plant and other network operation functions.

The company says the strike has had minimal impact to its operations.

However, CWA members say that replacement workers hired by the telco to handle repairs and installations on its wireline networks are failing to abide by "basic safety practices."

CWA said its members have cited instances of these temporary workers of stringing cable improperly, accessing potentially high-voltage infrastructure in an unsafe way, and in one case, compromising a telephone pole installation.

For more:
- see the release

Special Report: Verizon-CWA 2016 strike full coverage

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