Nearly 40,000 Verizon wireline workers voted overwhelmingly to ratify new contracts negotiated while they were on strike for seven weeks.
The ratification votes were conducted by local unions between May 31 and June 17. Local votes were conducted through mass membership meetings, mail-in ballots or walk-in voting at various polling places in proximity to major work locations.
The workers are members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). The new contracts take effect immediately and will run through Aug. 3, 2019.
The workers, from Massachusetts to Virginia, went on strike April 13 and returned to work on June 1. Last month, Lowell McAdam, Verizon’s chairman and CEO, indicated the strike may impact the telco’s second-quarter results.
“The ratification of these hard-won contracts cements an incredible victory for the nearly 40,000 courageous workers who put everything on the line to protect the good jobs for their families and for all American families,” said Dennis Trainor, CWA District 1 vice president. “When working people come together as a union, we can make a difference in improving wages and providing stability for families.”
The ratified wireline contracts include: a 10.9 percent raise over the next four years with compounded interest, including 3 percent upon ratification, and 2.5 percent on each anniversary of the contract; and a $1,250 signing bonus in the mid-Atlantic and a $1,000 signing bonus plus a $250 health reimbursement account in the Northeast, and a minimum of $700 in corporate profit sharing payments in each of the next four years.
In addition, Verizon will add 1,300 call center jobs; call centers that had been threatened with closure in the mid-Atlantic region will remain open, and existing job security language is preserved, according to the CWA.
Nearly 70 Verizon Wireless retail store workers in Brooklyn, New York, and Everett, Massachusetts, ratified their first contract. Verizon Wireless technicians and Verizon Connected Solutions workers also ratified separate agreements.
“We’re pleased that our employees ratified these new agreements,” said Marc Reed, Verizon’s chief administrative officer. “The terms are good for our employees, good for our customers and good for our business. The company’s key objectives for this round of bargaining were in the areas of health care, post-retirement costs and workforce flexibility. These agreements achieve all of those objectives.”
Verizon said it will achieve cost savings and cost avoidance through health-care plan design changes, adopting Medicare Advantage plans for its retirees, maintaining limits on post-retirement health care costs and freezing the mortality table for lump sum pensions using the GATT rate.
“In addition, the agreements allow for greater flexibility in call sharing to better serve customers, and give us the ability to offer special buyout incentives to associates,” Reed said. “Under these contracts, our union-represented employees continue to receive competitive wages and excellent health care and retirement benefits.”
Verizon and union leaders decided to start talking again after meeting with U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez. The tentative agreements were reached after nearly two weeks of negotiations with a federal mediator.