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Qwest, union begin negotiations in July
Workplace issues and health-care benefits are expected to dominate the contract talks.
By Kimberly S. Johnson
Denver Post
Friday, June 6, 2008

Health care and the number of benchmarks employees must reach will be among the top issues next month when Qwest and its union begin contract negotiations.

Bargaining for the telecommunications company's unionized workers, represented by the Communications Workers of America District 7, is set to open July 8.  Roughly 55 percent of Qwest's employees about 20,075 are represented by the union.

Negotiations will take place for network technicians, customer-service representatives and central office workers across Qwest's 14-state region.

While company officials wouldn't offer details about the upcoming negotiations, District 7 vice president Annie Hill said health-care benefits for active workers and retirees will be up for discussion, along with Qwest's contracting union work out to nonunion outfits.

Workplace issues, such as various quotas, also will be brought up, Hill said.

"There are too many measures people have to reach at the same time," she said.  "It's OK to provide measures, but you have to be reasonable in how you reach them.   Sometimes, we believe the measures are unrealistic."

Qwest and the CWA in 2005 settled on a three-year contract under which employees received a wage increase totaling 7.5 percent over the length of the contract.  While employees did not have to pay a monthly premium for individual health coverage, there were changes in some out-of-pocket costs and an enrollment fee for spouse and family coverage.

Employees who retired after 1990 maintained their health benefits but gave up some life insurance.  Pension benefits remained unchanged.

Kimberly S. Johnson: 303-954-1088 or