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Three Bells Continue Contract Talks

August 8, 1995

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Pacific Telesis reached agreement today with a union representing most of its employees, becoming the second of five regional Bell ompanies with negotiations under way to do so.

The agreement includes a 10.5 percent wage increase over the three-year contract period, a 14 percent increase in pension benefits and provisions expanding funding for job training and making it easier for workers to transfer to new jobs within the company, said Jeffrey Miller, spokesman for the Communications Workers of America.

The pact covers 35,000 CWA workers in California and Nevada, he said.

Southwestern Bell Telephone Co. reached agreement Monday with the CWA, representing 37,000 workers in Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Kansas.

That agreement includes an 11 percent wage increase over three years and a reduction in employees’ health care contributions, said Vic Crawley, vice president of the CWA’s 6th District. It also includes a new security clause giving telephone workers _ if laid off _ a chance to move to other subsidiaries of Southwestern Bell’s parent company, SBC Communications Inc., Crawley said.

Three regional Bell companies _ Bell Atlantic, Ameritech and BellSouth _ continued talks on new contracts.

Midnight strike deadlines passed Saturday as company and CWA negotiators at the five companies extended their talks.

At issue in all the negotiations were wages, union members’ access to new jobs within the companies, guarantees that those new jobs would be covered by the union, the use of subcontractors and the shifting of health care costs.

Bell Atlantic didn’t expect an agreement any time soon, spokesman Eric Rabe said Monday.

``We’re not very close to working anything out here,″ Rabe said.

The company has 37,000 workers who are CWA members, he said. The company operates in Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware and Washington, D.C.

The phone companies said they would use managers to maintain service if a strike were called.

CWA reached a new contract agreement with NYNEX last year. Talks are under way to renew a contract with US West; it expires Aug. 12.

Workers have gone on strike several times since the regional phone companies were formed following the court-directed breakup of AT&T in 1984. The largest came in 1989, when about 68,000 workers struck telephone companies in New York and 12 Western states.

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