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Strike Frustrates U S West Users

August 25, 1998

DENVER (AP) _ Customers across U S West’s region have grown increasingly frustrated by service delays as a strike by more than 34,000 workers continues with no visible progress in talks.

Some customers have turned to independent phone businesses for help, but those companies, too, have encountered problems getting repairs and installations completed by U S West managers who replaced striking workers who walked off the job Aug. 16 in 13 states.

``It’s killing us,″ said Deon Jachetta, president of Teleco, a Denver telephone maintenance, repair and installation business. ``We can’t get our work done. They’re taking the orders and giving us 50-day due dates.″

Typically, Jachetta gets three- to five-day due dates, or the date when a job will be completed.

In Tucson, Ariz., Bill Fritton of Territorial Telecommunication Services said he has been getting some extra calls for repairs because of the strike.

``I just called in a repair myself on one of our lines,″ he said. ``They’re talking like Sept. 12th (to complete the repair). Luckily, we’ve got four lines.″

As the strike against U S West entered its 10th day Tuesday, negotiators for the company and Communications Workers of America met again. Both sides have agreed not to discuss their proposals publicly.

The disputed issues include a controversial company pay plan, mandatory overtime and health-care benefits.

During a swing through metropolitan Denver to visit picket lines, CWA President Morton Bahr said there has been no significant progress during the negotiations.

Meanwhile, executives at Southern New England Telecommunications Corp., Connecticut’s main telephone company, made contingency plans for maintaining service as a hurricane threatened to strike the East Coast.

About 3,000 managers are filling in for an estimated 6,300 operators, customer-service representatives and technicians who struck the company early Sunday.

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