Bell Atlantic and 2nd union reach accord IBEW's agreement similar to CWA's

Telecommunications

August 13, 1998|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

BOSTON -- Bell Atlantic Corp., the largest U.S. company providing local phone service, and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers said yesterday that they have reached a tentative agreement on a two-year contract that will increase wages and pensions for more than 13,000 employees.

Two similar companies, US West Communications and Southern New England Telecommunications Corp., continued to negotiate labor agreements with the other major union in the industry, the Communications Workers of America.

US West's current contract expires Saturday night. Southern New England Telecommunications reopened talks after union members balked at wage increases they considered inadequate.

The Bell Atlantic contract, covering workers in Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, came a day after Bell Atlantic agreed to a two-year contract with the CWA that covers 73,000 workers and ended a two-day strike.

The IBEW and CWA accords are similar, giving workers 7.8 percent wage increases over two years, a 20 percent increase in pension benefits and access to new jobs in fast-growing areas such as the Internet.

With workers under contract for two years, Bell Atlantic can concentrate on customer service and competing against rivals.

"The settlement ensures that we continue to care for our customers by providing them with outstanding service," said Donald Sacco, executive vice president of human resources.

Under the agreement, IBEW workers will also get cash payments of $400 to $700 if certain service standards are met.

Bell Atlantic will increase by 15 percent payments for employees who elect to leave the company rather than be reassigned. The company will also increase by an average of 9 percent the amount employees are reimbursed for expenses and travel.

The IBEW will submit the agreement to its union members for a vote within 20 days.

Pub Date: 8/13/98

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