In the latest major setback for CWA’s Telecom Sector, members across the state voted to ratify by a razor thin margin perhaps the most retrogressive contract in the history of this bargaining unit in California.
The Executive Board of CWA 9003 unanimously recommended a NO vote. And, despite rejecting the Tentative Agreement (TA) by a 2 to 1 margin, CWA 9003 members were out-voted by the majority of those voting from other Locals. It was a bitter end to an acrimonious round of negotiations - reached after nearly 9 months of bargaining, 2 days of mediation, and 1 day of a state-wide grievance strike.
The new 4 year contract goes into effect immediately. However, the most draconian part of the agreement, the enormous health care costs that members will now have to bear, will not go into effect until the new plan options are rolled out in April.
Verizon effectively used the struggling national economy, despite making record corporate profits, and a strategy of stalling negotiations to create a sense of inevitability in each of its bargaining units beginning with Verizon East and working their way west to California. Sadly, it was the same strategy employed by AT&T and proved equally effective.
CWA’s national leaders hope to break this losing pattern with newly adopted structural changes that will go into effect next year when the first national Verizon Bargaining Council will convene.
The new contract expires on March 4, 2017. Members will receive a one-time ratification bonus of $1,100 and a wage increase of 2% effective with the ratification, 2% in 2014, 2% in 2015, and 2.5% in 2016.
Beginning in March, wages will be “frozen” for the purposes of calculating pensions for all eligible employees. There are no pensions whatsoever for new hires. One area of improvement is a new cap of 35% on the number of contractors allowed to do FiOS installation and maintenance work per calendar year. We believe this is the only such cap in the country, but it is still outrageously high.