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PREVIEW / AUG. 11-17

Verizon, Two Unions to Resume Contract Talks

August 11, 2003|From Reuters

Verizon Communications Inc. and two unions representing a third of the telephone company's workforce will resume contract negotiations Tuesday amid disputes over job security and health-care costs, sources familiar with the talks said.

The talks between New York-based Verizon and the unions have been overseen for 11 days by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, which assists in resolving labor disputes.

The mediator's decision to delay the talks came one day after the Communications Workers of America said it had received new proposals from the company that complicated the negotiations. It referred some issues about job security to regional units of the unions.

Verizon had called the CWA's statement a delay tactic, saying that it had given the job security proposals to the union days ago and that a basic framework to resolve all the issues at stake had been reached.

Verizon has said it needs to slash expenses in the face of escalating competition and slack demand. It has been trying to offset a decline in its core local telephone business by plowing into newer markets such as long- distance.

The unions, which represent 80,000 technicians and telephone operators from Maine to Virginia, want to preserve existing jobs and benefits and have an opportunity to land jobs in the faster-growing parts of the company, such a wireless and data.

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