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GTE PROPOSALS UNDERMINE GOOD JOBS, HEALTH CARE, CWA SAYS; UNION TAKES STRIKE VOTE IN FACE OF COMPANY INTRANSIGENCE

 GTE PROPOSALS UNDERMINE GOOD JOBS, HEALTH CARE, CWA SAYS;
 UNION TAKES STRIKE VOTE IN FACE OF COMPANY INTRANSIGENCE
 DALLAS, May 11 /PRNewswire/ -- The Communications Workers of America announced that the union is taking a strike vote, as the May 15 contract expiration date approached. Union negotiators said the parties are still far apart on major issues, and charged that the company is demanding 19 separate givebacks from its workers, despite its profitable financial outlook.
 The results of the strike vote by the 5,670 union-represented workers will be announced on Wednesday, May 13.
 "We are fighting for our future with GTE," said Communications Workers of America Vice President T.O. Moses.
 "GTE's proposals would destroy the good American jobs our communities have come to depend on," Moses charged. "GTE is attacking the existence of a full-time stable work force in this company. They want to undermine good, stable jobs, that contribute to a good standard of living in our communities -- in favor of substandard out-of-town contractors, temporary low-wage clerical jobs, and part-time jobs with inferior wages and benefits.
 "GTE's insistence on destroying good jobs with good pay, benefits, and a future with the company has forced CWA to seek authorization from our members for a strike," Moses said. "We must let the company know that we are serious about protecting good jobs for the people of our community, and quality service for the customers."
 CWA is bargaining with GTE Southwest for a new three year contract covering 5,760 workers in Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas, represented by CWA Local 6171, based in San Angelo, Texas. Bargaining began on March 31; the current contract expires on Friday, May 15. The results of the secret ballot strike vote will be announced on Wednesday, May 13.
 According to CWA, one of GTE's principal demands is the right to unlimited subcontracting. CWA contends that this would mean no guarantee that any union members would have jobs at GTE. The union also argues that contract labor not only threatens good jobs for the communities served by GTE, it erodes the quality of service to the customer.
 "CWA has been running ads to reach out to customers and apologize for the inferior service they get from subcontractors," Moses said. "We want them to clearly understand that the veteran, skilled work force that has provided years of quality telephone service is getting pushed out by GTE. We want to do a good job for the customers, but the company just wants to cut corners."
 "The community knows us," Moses said. "The wages and benefits we make and the service we provide benefits our communities. But GTE's subcontractors bring in people from all over the country. That means that local telephone rate-payers' money goes to benefit communities all over the country, but not your friends and neighbors right here at home. Our communities are losing money through this practice, and it should stop.
 "GTE is also degrading good clerical and accounting jobs and giving the work to temporary agencies," Moses stated. "Those jobs are primarily held by women, and GTE is jeopardizing some of the only decent paying jobs that clerical workers have in our communities. We're fighting for good paying, stable jobs with benefits and an opportunity to advance. GTE's clerical workers deserve no less.
 Moses pointed out that GTE spent $34.8 million last year on subcontracting, while getting rid of 487 union workers -- 2,325 union workers have lost their jobs since 1986.
 "GTE spent $600,000 of rate-payers money on back-pay awards over the last few years for violating the contract provision against subcontracting union work," Moses stated. "They mistreated the union workers, and they wasted the rate-payers money. If GTE had followed the contract, and treated the workers fairly, they could have invested that money in productive ways."
 CWA will hold a nationwide mobilization activity on May 14 against GTE's contract labor demand. GTE Locals around the country, who will begin bargaining in later months, will show their solidarity with the workers at GTE Southwest, in opposing subcontracting of union work.
 "Basically, to summarize where we are in bargaining," Moses said, "there are 23 company proposals on the table -- and 19 of those are retrogressive, requiring workers to accept major job erosion and loss of hard-won benefits. The company wants to shift health care costs to the workers -- which is a line in the sand that CWA has adamantly refused to cross with other employers around the country, and we won't start now with GTE."
 "The most unfortunate thing about the company's retrogressive demands," Moses remarked, "is how unnecessary their stance is. GTE is one of the healthiest, most profitable corporations in America, and continues to grow and prosper. Our members, whose hard work has made millions for GTE, deserve a fair contract that protects their standard of living and insures employment security now and in the future," Moses stated.
 GTE, the largest U.S. telephone holding company, is a financially strong, growing, successful corporation. In 1991, GTE saw significant increases in profits, revenues, return to shareholders, productivity, and acquired new assets. GTE paid $945 million for a share of the Venezuelan phone company in 1991, and consummated a $6.2 billion merger with Contel. Profitability per employee is estimated to exceed $35,000 per worker in 1991.
 GTE's telephone operations are the key to the company's success, providing an overwhelming share (85 percent) of their profits.
 "These economic security goals mean a great deal to the communities where GTE employees live and work," Moses continued. "If our economy is ever going to thrive again, successful, profitable companies like GTE must make a commitment to create good jobs, instead of continuing to downsize. The thousands of jobs that GTE has cut over the years have hurt families and communities all over this country, in favor of boosting short-term profits. GTE and other corporations must stop playing to Wall Street, putting workers on the unemployment lines to gain a quick jump in stock prices. GTE should adopt a long-term strategy that creates -- not eliminates -- good American jobs, with good benefits and opportunities for advancement. GTE is more than able to meet those goals."
 The GTE Southwest negotiations are the first of several rounds of bargaining between CWA and GTE to be held in 1992 and 1993, for new contracts covering a total of about 26,000 union represented workers nationwide.
 CWA represents over 600,000 workers in telecommunications, printing, publishing, media, health care, and the public sector in the United States and Canada.
 -0- 5/11/92
 /CONTACT: Jeff Miller or Gaye Williams Mack, 202-434-1172, or Ben Turn or Bill Davis, 214-929-4191, all of the Communications Workers of America/
 (GTE) CO: Communications Workers of America; GTE ST: IN: TLS SU:


TW -- DC011 -- 8562 05/11/92 11:06 EDT
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Date:May 11, 1992
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