A federal mediator Wednesday called a new bargaining session in an effort to avert a telephone strike set for July 9 by the union representing 15,000 workers of GTE California.
GTE provides local phone service for 2.7 million people in communities scattered along the Southern California coast and interior as well as in two Northern California towns.
Members of the Communications Workers of America last week rejected the latest offer of the Thousand Oaks-based company by a 55% to 45% margin. And on Tuesday they approved a tentative strike date of July 9. The workers had authorized a walkout when the old contract expired March 4 after preliminary talks, begun Jan. 30, showed little progress. Until the strike date was set, the contract deadline had been pushed back indefinitely.
Both sides immediately accepted the mediator's summons to resume negotiations at 10 a.m. July 5 in Los Angeles.
GTE spokesman Larry Cox said the company had proposed raises averaging 8.79% over the three-year life of the contract. These included, he said, "ratification bonuses" ranging from $300 to $925 with an additional one-time payment ranging from $202 to $425 for the lower clerical classifications.