Union History

Communications Workers of America

A Bargaining History at Verizon

As CWA members at Verizon, we have worked hard to win the good wages, benefits and working conditions we enjoy today. Our wages and benefits were not "given" to us by "generous" manage-ment. They were negotiated piece by piece over many years. It took hard work, sacrifice and mobilization to get where we are today.

Wage Increases

For decades we have negotiated wage increases for Verizon employees that far outstrip wage improvements for the average worker in the United States.

In 1976, an operator in New York City received a maximum weekly wage of $219 - 25% above the average wage for all work-ers in the United States. Service reps were paid $257 per week, 47% above the national average. And top craft workers received $334 per week, or 90% above the national average. By 1998, CWA had negotiated a maximum wage for operators in New York City of $714 - 62% above the national average of $441 per week. Service rep wages were $848 - 92% over the average wage, and top craft workers received $1,041 per week in New York City, 136% greater than the national average.

During the same period, consumer prices rose by 183%. The average American worker suffered a decline in the standard of liv-ing as average wages rose by only 151%. In contrast, the wages of an operator in New York City rose by 227% between 1976 and 1998, service rep wages increased by 230%, and top craft wages increased by 212%, enabling our members to enjoy real gains in wage income in addition to keeping up with inflation.

Hours and Wage Treatment

Prior to 1961, most Verizon workers were on a 72-month wage progression schedule and progression raises were not automatic, but based on "merit." Workers were not paid time and one-half when working on a holiday, nor did they receive double-time, Saturday differentials, etc.

1962
New England Directory Sales unit established fair and impartial distribution of accounts.

1968
New England Directory Sales unit established payment for time off to be based on average earnings (including commissions).

1970
First double-time rate was negotiated for all hours in excess of 49 in any week.

1971
First Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) introduced, and Central City Allowance was established. Wage progression sched-ules shortened to five years for Craft and four years for Clerical
workers. First Premium Pay for Saturday when it is one of the five scheduled tours (Plant Dept. only). Wage Zone upgrades provided additional income for many members in New York and New England.

Improved double time rate so that 35 hour and 37-1/2 employees received double-time after working nine hours of over-time above their normal work week. Established 10% tour differ-ential-for New England clerical unit.

1974
Improved COLA formula. Accounting, Traffic, and Commercial employees to be paid at time and one-half for work beyond their normal hours in a given day. Employees who are demoted following an on-the-job injury will not suffer loss of pay (Red-Circling).

1980
COLA formula improved once more. Maximum rates for Clerical, Traffic, Commercial, and Accounting workers increased.

1986
employees increased. Wage gains continue through annual raises, progression raises, increased differentials, and COLA.

1986
Wage gains continue through annual, progression, and COLA raises. Established a Saturday differential for Operators (Downstate), and established double-time rate for Operators work-ing on Sunday (Downstate).

1989
Wage gains continue.

1991
Wage gains continue increases for Wage Zone One differentials special city allowance upgraded everyone in Wage Zone 2a by folding them into Wage Zone Two.

1994
Wage gains continue clerical titles combined, with all clerical employees receiving additional wage and pension band increases.

1998
Wage gains continue $900 cash payment bonus. Retroactive pay for members improperly bypassed for upgrades and/or promotions. Increased differentials in local agreements.

Vacation and Time Off

CWA members work hard at the telephone company and are often subject to undue stress on the job. Workers deserve adequate vacation with financial security during time spent off the job. CWA has made substantial inroads in this area over the years.

1969
Vacation improved to five weeks after 25 years of service.

1971
All employees of N.Y. Telephone (Plant Department) guaranteed one week of vacation during summer period. New England Clerical unit establishes time off with pay for emergency or compelling commitments.

1974
Vacation improved again, to three weeks after eight years, and four weeks after fifteen years. Established the right to take one week of vacation in single days (vacation days).

1977
Introduction of Excused Work Days (EWDs) and Long Term Disability Plan (LTD) to provide financial security for injured workers. Maternity Plan to provide both paid and unpaid leave.

1980
Vacation improved again, to three weeks after seven years, and one additional EWD.

1986
New England Clerical unit improved day-at-a-time vacation up to three (3) weeks. .

1994
New option to observe either Martin Luther King Day or the day after Thanksgiving instead of Lincoln's birthday. In most contracts, when holidays fall on a Saturday, then preceding Friday
designated as holiday.

Health Care Benefits

The health, dental, and vision care benefits that many workers now take for granted are not a product of the company's generosity, rather they are a result of CWKs continued commitment to the workers we represent and their families. The health care package that we now enjoy was put together one piece at a time. In each new round of bargaining, CWA restated our continued concerns and today, represented workers enjoy one of the best health care packages in the country.

1960
Established Non-Contributory Major Medical Plan for employees, retirees, and dependents. Established Contributory "Group Life and Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance
Program."

1964
Established contributory "Basic Medical Expense Plan" for employees, retirees, and dependents. Company contributed 25% of cost, and Union members contributed 75% of cost.

1970
Company finally agreed to pay 100% of health care package premiums.

1972
Retirees to be reimbursed for fees and premiums for Medicare, Part B. Surgery and Physicians ~ fees paid at 80% of Usual, Customary and Reasonable (UCR) charges. Maximum out-of-pocket expenses decreased to 2% of basic wage, or $250 per individual.

1974
Dental Plan introduced. UCR increased to 90% for surgery and physicians'fee. Maximum out-of-pocket expense decreased to 1 % of basic wage, or $150 per individual. For active employees, amount paid by the Basic and Major Medical Plan after the first $5,000 or covered expenses increased from 80% to 100%.

1977
Improvements negotiated for the Dental, Basic and Major Medical Expense Plans. Joint Health Care Cost Containment Committees established.

1980
Vision Care Plan introduced. Dental coverage increased. UCR increased to 95% of surgery charges. Many services covered at 100%. Retirees' lifetime maximum benefit is $50,000.

Company contributions to Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) increased.

1983
Additional service covered at 100%.

1986
As a result of a 3-week strike, the union prevented the company from shifting health care costs onto workers and even forced the company to provide an increase in benefits.

Established 100% coverage for those who choose alternative settings (home health care, skilled nursing facilities, birthing centers, and hospice care) to hospital stays.

Established cost containment features such as pre-certifica-tion and second surgical opinions.

Established Mail Order Prescription Plan and Chemical Dependency Treatment Program. Increased coverage for mental health care from 50% of UCR to 80% of LICK Increased maximum yearly benefit for Dental Plan. Increased coverage for Vision Care Plan.

1989
A 17-week strike forced the company to abandon its most comprehensive attempt to shift health care costs onto workers. The company had to continue to provide fully paid benefits for all current and retired employees. Managed care was entirely voluntary. VDT eye care program established. A healthy pregnancy program established. A mental health care network created to provide 100% coverage outside network remains at 80% coverage.

1991
Continuation of fully paid benefits for all current and retired. Managed care is entirely voluntary. Improvements in mental health care network, dental, and emergency and pregnancy
hospital admissions. Established a new mechanism for funding retiree health benefits.

1994
Continuation of fully paid benefits for all current and retired. Managed care is entirely voluntary. Maximum OCC benefits for retirees increased to $350,000. Third medical opinion extended to all NY Tel contracts binding for one-year trial. Improvements in dental.

1998
Continuation of fully paid benefits for all current and retired. Managed care is entirely voluntary. Increased dental plan benefits. Binding independent 3rd opinion in the event of dispute over a worker's medical condition or ability to return to work. Health care spending accounts created.

Pension Rights

1971
Pension formula increased to 1.5% for years of service after age 45. Minimum pension increased. Early retirement benefits liberalized. Male and female employees and surviving widows and widowers to be treated equally with respect to retirement age and survivor benefits.

1974
Penalty for retiring before age 55 reduced from 6% per year to 3% per year. Pension formula improved. Increased benefits by 33%. Minimum pension increased by 28%.

1977
Introduced Savings and Security Plan with matching company funds. Increased pension formula, maximum pensions, and death benefits. Improved Surviving Spouse Option.

1980
30 and OUT! No penalty, regardless of age. Increased retiree pensions by 16.5% over the life of the contract. Revamped Pension Plan with increased minimum.

1983
Pension Plan improved. Increased retiree pensions by 9% over the life of the contract.

1986
Increased pension bands by 9% over the life of the contract. Savings and Security Plan (SSP) changed from a dollar amount to a percentage of basic wages. Established a 401 (k) savings feature to the SSP.

1989
14% increase in monthly benefits for everyone and additional 6% for those who retire before 1/1/90.

1991
20% increase in monthly benefits. Early retirement incentives as opposed to layoffs Five & Five and medical enhance-ments.

1994
5% increase in monthly benefits. Minimum pension amount established of $400 per month for workers with 15 years' service. Additional joint and survivor annuity options created. Six & Six retirement incentives (including greater of $500 per month or 30% of pension until age 62) to be offered to all pension eligible workers before the end of contract.

1998
5% increase effective 10/1/98 and 15% minimum increase effective 7/1/00. Six & Six retirement extended through 12/31/99 along with Social Security supplement Six & Six restruc-tured so that every eligible member will receive a package.

Worker Protections

In addition to the benefits represented employees enjoy while working, CWA has also secured substantial compensation for the non-working years.

1961
Basic formula was 1 %, based on the five highest years of earnings. Once a retiree started collecting Social Security, the company deducted 50% of Social Security check from the company
pension. This was known as the Social Security Offset.

1970
Following an 18-day national strike in 1969, the union
won the following gains:

Eliminated Social Security Offset!!!

Introduced vesting for employees age 40 with more than 15 years of service. Minimum pensions increased to $125 per month for workers with over 20 years of service.

The worker's protections that CWA has negotiated for our mem-bers give workers substantive rights in the workplace and provide employment and income security during times of hardship.

1968
Established first-ever Joint Safety Committees (N.Y. Plant). Provided for an employee's right to inspect his/her person-nel records yearly. Provided for restrictions on the number of overtime hours one could be forced to work.

An eleven-day strike by N.Y. Plant workers achieved the High Crime Area Award, or the Commodore Award, which established a worker's right to refuse an assignment (unless an escort is provid-ed) it she or he felt that such an assignment may endanger his/her safety. A worker who exercises this right cannot be disciplined.

Three-year contracts achieved.

1971
Established the right to arbitrate promotional bypasses. Established the right of Union representation at disciplinary meet-ings. Reduced number of overtime hours one could be forced to work (Plant).

New England Clerical Unit established job posting and bidding as a means of filling vacancies. This unit also provided for better protection for senior workers in case of a layoff.

1974
Established seniority rights on permanent transfers (N.Y. Plant).

1977
Reassignment Pay Protection Plan (RPPP), Supplemental Income Protection Plan (SIPP), moving expenses, and expedited arbitration established.

1980
Union/Management Technology Change Committee formed. Quality of Work Life Committees established. Improvements in SIPP and RIPP negotiated. Elimination of the "0" (Outstanding) rating as an additional factor when selecting a candidate for promotion. Right to arbitrate promotional bypasses in the Commercial, Accounting, and Traffic Units.

1983
Voluntary Income Protection Plan (VIPP) established. Improvements in SIPP and RIPP. Union-Management Training/Retraining Committees established. Medical coverage for laid-off workers extended. "Green Circle" protection for workers affected by divestiture guaranteed. Company agreed to consider UTP requests before hiring off the street. Improved guidelines of Attendance Control Plan (ACP).

1986
Increased Extended Medical Coverage for those who leave the company. Established the Income Protection Plan (IPP), which replaces SIPP, VIPP and Technological Displacement Allowance (TA) and broadens the group to which IPP is offered and increases payments by 17%. Lump sums under previous VIPP increased from $2,500 to $7,000. Increased RIPP schedules. Established Job Bank for sur-plussed workers. Improved training and retraining provisions.

1991
No loss of pay for workers transferred or downgraded because of restructuring, Neutrality and card check for NYNEX companies except for corporate headquarters.

1994
No layoffs, downgrades, or forced transfers. All job vacancies must first be offered through Job Bank to qualified NYNEX employees before hiring off the street. Card check and neutrality for NYNEX unrepresented workers.

1998
Protecting Existing Jobs

No layoffs, downgrades, or forced transfers. Bell Atlantic Plus accounts transferred back to CWA and no new accounts.

Making Temporary Workers Permanent
Three thousand temps made permanent with retroactive benefits to date of hire.

Limiting Subcontracting
Subcontracting froze at 1998 levels and no new major subcontracting initiatives through 12/31/99. Commencing 1/11/00, company will give six month's notice of any new initiatives. Creation of joint Contracting Initiatives Committee to examine contracting issues.

Expanding Jobs
Data: CWA members to install & maintain new digital tech-nology, e.g., ADSL. Long Distance similar work to be conducted by CWA members. Bundled Services performed by CWA members.

Organizing Rights
Card check recognition and neutrality at all Bell Atlantic sub-sidiaries except BA Mobile, including acquired companies with less than $3 billion capitalization.

Savings and Security Plan

1986
401 (k) plan established in 1988 with a company match at 50%.

1989
Increase company 401(k) match to 60%.

1991
Increase company 401 (k) match to 66-2/3%. Stock option plan established.

1994
One year of service no longer required.

1998
Increase company 401 (k) match to 80%.

1989
Dependent Care Assistance Plan established to deduct up to $4,800 from salary on a pretax basis. Adoption reimbursement up to $2,500. Family care leave for up to a total of 24 months
during a 10-year period for care of seriously ill family member with guaranteed job reinstatement. Leave of absence for newborn or adopted children for one year with guaranteed job reinstatement.

1991
$1 million for Work and Family projects. Family care leave service credit to be granted for entire period of leave.

1994
$7 million fund for direct payments to workers who incur child and/or elder care costs. Adoption reimbursement increased to $3,000. Maximum adoption reimbursement increased from
$3,000 to $5,000. $3 million contribution to Dependent Care Reimbursement Fund.

Elimination of 6-month waiting period for Dependent Care Spending Account eligibility.

Education Benefits

1989
Educational loans in amounts of $1,500 to $25,000 a year ($1100,000) maximum for each borrower whether employee, spouse, or child.

1994
Technical associate program fully paid by NYNEX including one day per week to attend. Education leaves ranging from six to twenty-four months with full benefits, service credit and job return guarantee and up to $10,000 per year for tuition. Employees who retire receive up to $3,000 for job training or further education.

Communications Workers of America
District 1
80 Pine Street, 37th Floor
New York, NY 10005
212-344-2515