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Verizon contract talks continue

August 08, 2000

Verizon contract talks continue



From wire and staff reports

WASHINGTON - Striking telephone workers in 12 states and the District of Columbia went a third day without a contract Tuesday after talks between Verizon Communications and two unions snagged over job-security issues.

Both sides returned to the bargaining table Tuesday morning with talks focusing on some of the sticking points that slowed discussions Monday.

"Those issues are still thorny," said Jim Spellane, spokesman for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, one of the two unions bargaining with Verizon.

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The strike by 87,200 company employees affects operations for 25 million customers from Maine to Virginia.

As of Tuesday afternoon Verizon had 150 trouble reports in Washington County, said spokeswoman Sandra Arnette in Baltimore. The trouble reports varied from static on the line to no dial tone, she said.

Managers are stepping in to make those repairs, but customers are being told they may have to wait longer than normal before their service is fixed, Arnette said.

Trouble report statistics for the Eastern Panhandle were unavailable because "people who would get the information are out driving trucks," said Paul Miller, spokesman for Verizon.

He said the amount of trouble reports hasn't increased since the walkout but the company's ability to handle the problems has been hampered by the decrease in staff.

Verizon doesn't serve Franklin or Fulton counties in Pennsylvania, a company spokeswoman said.

Late Monday, the Communications Workers of America, the larger of the two unions in negotiations, said several job-security issues had slowed the overall progress of contract talks. Chief among the barriers was the question of transfer of work to other areas served by Verizon's coast-to-coast service area.

"That's a big issue, to protect the people that we have now, and for growth of membership," said Jack Marshall, an IBEW official from Worcester, Mass. "We want jobs for our kids, basically."

Other issues still unresolved include forced overtime and workplace stress.

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