CWA, Bell Atlantic Reach Contract Agreement
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Bell Atlantic and unions representing 52,000 of its workers reached agreement Sunday on a three-year contract that includes an 11.74 percent wage increase for workers.
Philadelphia-based Bell Atlantic was the last of the seven Baby Bell regional telephone companies to reach a contract agreement. Employees represented by the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers had been working without a contract since Aug. 8.
Under the proposed contract, workers would get an immediate 4 percent pay raise, a 3.74 percent increase next year and another 4 percent increase the third year. They also would get a cost of living adjustment effective if the consumer price index rises by 3.5 percent or more a year.
The proposed contract must be approved by union members. Talks are continuing on various local issues, which both sides expect to complete by next Friday.
″This bargaining has been very intense, but we have reached agreement and resolved our differences,″ said Bell Atlantic assistant vice president Regina Novotny.
The contract also includes a 13 percent increase in pension benefits, a profit sharing option, improved family leave plan and job protection for workers involuntarily relocated or reassigned due to early retirements.
″We’re happy to report substantial improvements in the key areas of wages, pensions and employment security - and without any give-backs,″ said CWA chief negotiator Vincent Maisano.
Absent from the proposal was a telecommuting program, which would have allowed some employees to work from home on company-supplied equipment. The unions had flatly rejected the idea, saying it could prompt the company to lower the salaries of those who opt to work at home.
Bell Atlantic serves customers in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia and Washington, D.C. CWA represents about 40,000 Bell Atlantic employees, while IBEW represents about 12,000 workers.
Tentative agreements were announced earlier this month by five other regional phone companies created by the 1984 breakup of American Telephone & Telegraph Co.: Ameritech Corp., BellSouth, Southwestern Bell, Pacific Telesis and U S West. The seventh Baby Bell, NYNEX, which serves New York and New England, is operating under an agreement in effect until 1995.