Qwest, union schedule resumption of
Rocky Mountain News
Friday, October 3, 2008
Qwest Communications and its largest union will resume
bargaining Thursday, setting a midnight deadline Friday for
reaching a new tentative agreement.
Members of the Communications Workers of America this week
soundly rejected a proposed three-year contract ironed out just
a week before the Democratic National Convention in
in August. The CWA represents about 20,000 Qwest
Union officials have said the members, who would have faced
health-care premiums for the first time, were upset at the way
they were treated by the Denver telco. The
additional health care costs would have offset a good portion of
a proposed 9.73 percent wage increase over three years.
Qwest spokesman Bob Toevs and CWA District 7 spokesman Al Kogler
both confirmed the new bargaining schedule today but declined to
comment about possible new proposals.
Kogler said the union agreed with Qwest “to let the negoiations
go the best they can without anything in the media about
Donna Jaegers, a telecommunications analyst for D.A. Davidson &
Co. in Denver, speculated that
union workers felt like they have given up enough in the past
few years to help Qwest reach financial stability.
“Maybe Qwest needs to sweeten (the original deal) and give them
a little more upfront,” Jaegers said.
But she added Qwest again has an economic card to play given the
country’s current financial turmoil. Qwest separately laid
off an undisclosed number of nonunion employees in its network
and mass markets groups this week.
“I don’t think anyone in the union really wants to go on
strike,” Jaegers said. She also noted the union doesn’t
have as strong of a bargaining position now that the political
conventions are over.
Qwest was the official telecommunications provider for the
Democratic and Republican National Conventions.
The CWA has authorized a strike as a last resort, and Qwest has
reactivated its strike-contingency plan.