Qwest and CWA Reach Tentative Agreement
Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE: Q) and the Communications Workers of America reached a new tentative agreement for a 4-year contract covering about 20,000 Qwest workers.
Results of a ratification vote over the new agreement by Qwest CWA members are expected by Oct. 31. In total, Qwest employs about 35,000 workers.
The pact follows the announcement on Sept. 30 that CWA-represented Qwest workers had voted down a tentative agreement reached during normal bargaining by both parties Aug. 17.
Following last week’s rejection by members, the company and union agreed to extend the terms of their 2005 contract. Talks for a revised agreement have been ongoing since Thursday in Denver.
“The agreement continues a competitive overall compensation program for our workers that compares very favorably to national averages,” said Rich Baer, general counsel and chief administrative officer. “While economic pressures are challenging, especially in the face of rising health care costs and the recent financial crisis, we feel it is the right thing to do to stand by the offer we made in August 2008 of fair increases in wages and modest monthly premiums.”
“We recognize that to deliver the certainty of a four-year agreement to our membership in troubled economic times is a win for our people and a win for the company,” said Louise Caddell, vice president of CWA District 7. “This agreement is reasonable and fair in terms of wages and holding back the towering rise in health care expenses.”
Highlights of this agreement include:
· A general wage increase of about 12.55 percent cumulative over the four years of the contract. This compares to about a 9 percentcumulative increase over three years offered in the August tentative agreement.
· Modest premium contributions to health care benefits and a choice of plan designs. Under the 2005 contract, an active employee had been paying $33 a month for family coverage. The new agreement calls for a $75 per month contribution for family coverage in the company’s PPO offering. If an employee chooses to participate in the company’s optional “high-deductible” plan, family coverage will cost $5 per month.
· In 2007, family coverage for Qwest management workers selecting the company’s PPO plan averaged $370 per month. In 2007, the average contribution nationally for similar plans averaged about $480 per month.
· Pension increase of 3 percent for eligible individuals retiring from the company after Oct. 12, 2008.
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