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LABOR : Pac Tel Talks Appear Headed for Settlement

August 08, 1995|From Associated Press

Negotiations appeared to be creeping toward a settlement in the labor dispute between Pacific Telesis Group and a union representing roughly 34,000 of its workers, both sides said Monday.

Meanwhile, Southwestern Bell Telephone Co. reached agreement Monday with a union representing most of its employees, a union official said, becoming the first of five regional Bell companies with negotiations under way to do so.

In the case of Pacific Bell, a strike threat still loomed over much of California and Nevada, but an agreement was more likely, union and company spokesmen said.

"The talks are back on track. We're once again confident that we are going to get a settlement," said T Santora, spokesman for the Communications Workers of America, whose contract with PacTel expired Saturday.

"It's been a real roller-coaster ride," he said.

Earlier Monday, company spokesman Craig Watts said "both sides are hoping they'll reach an agreement soon," but Watts had no details on which issues remained on the table.

A walkout was averted twice over the weekend after union leaders "stopped the clock" on midnight strike deadlines both Saturday and Sunday. No new strike deadline was set.

A strike at Pacific Telesis, parent of Pacific Bell and Nevada Bell, could affect roughly 15 million customers in the two states. It was unclear exactly how service would be disrupted, since PacTel planned to use 13,000 managers to fill striking workers' jobs.

In 1989, when workers last struck Pacific Bell, managers worked 12-hour, six-day shifts and avoided most major problems for the 13.2 million customers the system served then.

The Bell companies said they would use managers to maintain service should a strike be called.

The Southwestern Bell agreement includes an 11% average wage increase over the three-year contract period and a reduction in employees' health care costs, said Vic Crawley, vice president of the Communications Workers of America's sixth district. It also includes a new security clause giving laid-off telephone workers a chance to move to another subsidiary of Southwestern Bell's parent company, SBC Communications Inc., Crawley said.

"It appears to be a settlement that meets all of our goals," CWA spokesman Jeffrey Miller said.

Strike deadlines passed over the weekend as company and CWA negotiators from coast to coast extended their talks.

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