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Regional Bells sign pacts.

Six regional Bell telephone companies signed 3-year collective bargaining agreements with one or both of the two major unions representing their work forces, settling disputes over wages, job security, pensions, and health insurance costs. The contracts cover about 270,000 telephone operators, clerical employees, sales and business representatives, and lineworkers at Ameritech, Bell Atlantic, Bell South, Pacific Telesis, Southwestern Bell, and US West.

The Communications Workers and Electrical Workers and six regional Bell operating companies began separate negotiations in June to replace contracts that were scheduled to expire in August. Early settlements had already been reached at NYNEX and Illinois Bell.

The Pacific Telesis contract with the Communications Workers covers about 38,500 workers in California and Nevada. Terms call for a 12-percent increase in wages, including job upgrades and special adjustments; and annual incentive awards of up to 5 percent of an employee's annual salary if the company achieves its financial and service goals.

The parties negotiated several changes in job security. To reduce the need for layoffs, the contract calls for placement of potential surplus workers into work groups with job vacancies and the offer of early retirement incentives to eligible employees. To broaden transfer opportunities for surplus workers, the accord establishes an automated job posting and bidding system, with priority placement for surplus workers; and provides wage protection for surplus workers placed in downgraded jobs, with reimbursement of relocation expenses if new jobs are not in commuting distance. To assist employees to shift to new jobs, the agreement provides $9 million over the term of the agreement for a jointly administered training and retraining program that will provide paid tuition, books, and fees; skills training; training for transition to other employment; and low interest loans for education expenses.

The parties made several changes in health and welfare benefits, including a 13-percent increase in pension benefits; the option to receive a monthly pension benefit or a "cash-out" (lump-sum), which can be rolled over into the company's savings plan or an IRA; and enhancements in the prescription drug and mail order drug plans, diagnostic and laboratory services, and dental schedule.

Other terms included $2 million for referral services for employees to locate help for child care, elder care, adoption, and school age children; combining all types of family leave into one, with up to 12 months' leave in increments in a 24-month period; establishment of joint committees on such issues as technological change, career planning, health care, safety and health, and training and retraining; and early access to life insurance benefits for terminally ill employees.

The Bell South agreement with the Communications Workers covers about 62,000 workers in nine southeastern States. It calls for an 11.3-percent increase in the wage package, including expected cost-of-living adjustments and profit-sharing payments. Job security provisions include expansion of the job pool for surplus workers, shifting work done previously by contractors to the bargaining unit, special leave programs to cut the number of surplus jobs, improvements in compensation for surplused workers, and formation of a joint committee to study the company's practice of contracting out certain work, with the goal of returning work to union members. The contract also provides improved health care and pension benefits.

The Southwestern Bell contract with the Communications Workers covers approximately 42,000 workers in Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Texas. The pact provides a wage increase of 12.3 percent over the contract term, additional upgrades for workers in rural areas to bring their pay to the same level as that of workers in urban areas, additional paid days off for workers in urban areas, and a new "Success Sharing" plan that will give workers $37 million in cash or stock if the company performs well.

Other contract terms comprise job and union security provisions, including a company pledge of neutrality in union organizing drives at nonunion subsidiaries, transfer rights for surplus employees to other subsidiaries, a joint task force to deal with subcontracting issues, and arrangements to return contract work to surplus craft employees. The contract also establishes committees to study ways to eliminate secret monitoring, issues relating to sales quotas, technological change, and health care cost containment and improvements in health care, family care plans, and pension benefits.

The US West contracts with the Communications Workers and Electrical Workers cover 39,600 workers in 14 States in the Rocky Mountain and Northwest regions. The pacts call for an immediate wage increase of 5 percent and 3 percent in August 1993 and 1994; increases in pension benefits of between 13 percent and 15 percent; and preservation of company-paid health care benefits for retirees. The Communications Workers' pact also expanded the bargaining unit to include jobs that the contract had not covered.

The Ameritech contract with the Communications Workers covers about 35,000 workers in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin. It provides for a 13-percent increase in the wage package, including a wage increase of 3.5 percent immediately, 4 percent in the second and third years, and job and locality pay upgrades, which increase wages for workers in nonurban areas.

The contract also calls for pension increases of between 10 percent and 17 percent; modifications in the health care plan, including elimination of deductibles for managed care network participants and improvements in well-child care and preventive care for women; improvements in the "Success Sharing" profit-sharing program, which could yield up to 10 days' pay per worker; company funding of health insurance premiums for workers who retire during the contract term; funding of up to $3,000 per worker for education and retraining; increased life insurance benefits; improvements in family leave for adoption and child care; job upgrades; locality pay upgrades; and increased dental and vision care benefits.

The Bell Atlantic contract with the Communications Workers and Electrical Workers covers about 51,800 workers in Washington, DC, and six mid-Atlantic States. It provides wage increases of 4 percent immediately, 3.74 percent in the second year, and 4 percent in the third year, and cost-of-living adjustments if the Consumer Price Index increases by 3.5 percent or more a year.

Other terms include a 13-percent increase in pension benefits for active employees and 4 percent for current retirees; early retirement incentives, including an extra 3 years of age and service credit for pension eligibility, and an additional 2 years of age-service credit and a 10-percent pension supplement until the worker becomes eligible for Social Security; a profit-sharing option; improvements in the family leave plan; job protection for workers involuntarily relocated or reassigned because of early retirements; improvements in the savings and life insurance programs; and a guarantee of employer neutrality in organizing efforts and union recognition based on majority card check.
COPYRIGHT 1992 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Title Annotation:collective bargaining agreements of Bell Regional Holding Companies
Author:Cimini, Michael H.; Behrmann, Susan L.
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:Nov 1, 1992
Previous Article:Analyzing labor markets in Central and Eastern Europe.
Next Article:Settlement at LTV Steel Co.

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