Dohiyi Mir
    In Which NTodd Says His Peace

Wednesday, August 06, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.

Special Birthday Edition: Verizon Update

It's so simple, really:

1) Management should only be compensated when the company as a whole is getting what the management is suppose to provide - leadership and vision. The hourly employee should also be equally compensated - without them there is no company.

2) The union must understand that it's purpose is to defend it's members against wrongs that are or might be inflicted upon it's members. It is not the purpose of the union to dictate policy to the company or manage the company.

A manager from New York posted these points at They sound pretty reasonable, don't they? And then I started to get hopeful when I saw WaPo headline with Verizon, Unions Agree on Framework. But reading the article, I find:

Verizon Communications Inc. said yesterday that it had reached agreement on the outlines of a contract with 78,000 workers in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic, but union officials disputed the suggestion that a settlement was imminent.

They can't even agree whether they're making real progress? Well, there's still room for optimism:

But the possibility of a strike, which both sides signaled was strong late last week, seemed to fade yesterday.

"As long as they continued to talk and move forward, a strike wouldn't happen under those circumstances," said Jim Spellane, a spokesman for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. But to say that the sides were on the verge of settlement is also "optimistic," he said. "There are still some disagreements on job security. There are some other things that are not 100 percent resolved."

Workers at some Verizon offices staged rallies before work yesterday, mostly in the New York region. More such rallies are scheduled for today and Thursday, said the CWA's Miller. But he added: "As long as bargaining is taking place, nobody is talking about a strike."

So I guess no strike is imminent, and neither is an agreement. Hard to really tell where things really are with all the gamemanship. The NYTimes says:

Early yesterday, Jeff Miller, the chief spokesman for the Communications Workers of America, Verizon's largest union, said that "philosophical chasms" remained on several issues.

At 6 p.m. yesterday, Mr. Miller issued a still negative, but somewhat less pessimistic, statement. "Our negotiators just told me that despite talks and passing proposals back and forth and looking at contractual language closely, at this hour we're no closer than we were 24 hours ago to an agreement," he said. "The major issues are still unresolved."

Mr. Miller said two issues remained at the forefront. First was Verizon's demand to change job security language to make it easier to lay off and transfer workers. Second, Verizon wants its union workers to pay more toward their health coverage.

Perplexed by Verizon's statement, union officials suggested that the company was putting an optimistic spin on the talks to reassure shareholders, customers and employees.

Verizon officials questioned the negative tenor of the union's remarks, suggesting that it was trying to rally the troops and keep them on a strike footing.

The Mid-Atlantic bargaining update said "Negotiators reported that they spent many hours today trading proposals and contract language with Verizon, but so far, today's talks have not moved us closer to a settlement." The Northeast was, unsurprisingly, a bit more strident:

In a transparent effort to manipulate the bargaining process, Verizon put out a misleading press statement this afternoon that gave some reporters-and many of our members-the false impression that we were closer to reaching a settlement than is actually the case.

The company statement said, "We believe we have established a framework that addresses all the major issues, including job security."

Unfortunately, little or no real progress was made today despite much hard work by our negotiators, who have been trading proposals and responses with the company for many hours. As of this evening, there was no resolution of such critical issues as job security and health care, along with many other issues still on the table.

If there's a "framework" in place, we still need to finish the plumbing, the roof, the drywall, the doors and the windows.

I don't know whether to be hopeful or not. Maybe both sides should listen to the two suggestions above from the "guy that never graduated high school". Book learnin' sure doesn't seem to be helping...


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