Tentative Agreement Reached in Ohio Bell Strike
CLEVELAND (AP) _ Striking Ohio Bell telephone workers reached a tentative agreement Saturday on a contract, but picket lines will likely stay up until other strikes against Chicago-based Ameritech are settled, officials said.
After a brief session Saturday afternoon at a downtown hotel, negotiators returned a few hours later and signed the agreement - a three-year contract that covers about 10,100 workers.
But the Communications Workers of America, which called for a strike against Ohio Bell just after midnight on Aug. 13, urged its Ohio Bell locals to stay off the job and on the picket lines until five other labor disputes in the Ameritech system are resolved.
Ameritech includes Ohio Bell, Indiana Bell, Illinois Bell, Wisconsin Bell, Michigan Bell and the regional Ameritech Services Inc.
Nationally, 200,000 workers in 20 states went on strike earlier this month against four regional telephone companies. Union leaders have negotiated tentative settlements with striking employees at Pacific Telesis, which serves California and Nevada; and Bell Atlantic, which covers West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., and New Jersey.
In New York, NYNEX Corp. said Friday it had agreed to resume bargaining with its striking workers for the first formal talks since that walkout started almost three weeks ago.
Terms of the Ohio Bell settlement were not revealed. A main issue in the impasse was whether a pay increase should be given in a lump sum, as the company wished, or put into base-pay schedules, as the union sought.
″We feel that we have a very fair and innovative agreement,″ said Ted Garrison, Ohio Bell’s assistant vice president for labor relations and the company’s chief contract negotiator.
″We feel we have done some good work in terms of wages and benefits, family care and other issues. We feel we have positioned both the Ohio Bell telephone company and the employees for the 1990s,″ Garrison said.
Communications Workers of America staff represtative David Derrig said the union will not reveal specifics until the agreement is ratified, which he estimated would take up to a week.
Ohio Bell provides service to about 2.5 million homes and businesses in about two-thirds of the state.
Some 3,000 Ohio Bell administrators and supervisors have attempted to maintain the company’s business and customer services during the strike.