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Utility accords.

Utility accords Averting a work stoppage set for the next day, negotiators for the Boston Edison Co. and Utility Workers union Locals 369 and 387, bargaining for some 4,100 employees, signed separate 4-year agreements. Local 369 represented about 3,000 maintenance workers; and Local 387, some 1,100 clerical employees. The major issues in dispute were pensions and safety concerns.

Terms of the agreement with Local 369 provide new contract language giving the union a more active voice in investigating serious accidents. The union also won the right to be informed about hazardous substances in the workplace and any mortality and morbidity studies Boston Edsion conducts. In addition, several changes were made in the pension area. The eligibility requirement for normal retirement was reduced from age 60 to age 57 effective immediately, and from 40 years of service regardless of age to 35 years of service; pensioners retiring before the age of 62 receive a special monthly retirement supplement, ranging from $7 per year of credited service for those retiring before age 58 to $10 per year of credited service for those retiring before age 62; and elimination the Social Security offset and inclusion of years of service beyond 30 in calculation of pension benefits. Other terms included an immediate 5-percent increase in wages and 4.5 percent in each of the next 3 years (wages were not a major issue in the negotiations), raising the average hourly rate from $17.40 to $20.85; a 70-cent-an-hour increase (to $1) over the contract term in both evening and night shift differentials; continuation of the existing health care coverage; and improvements in dental and vision benefits.

Details of the clerical agreement were sketchy. The new pact reportedly provides a wage increase of 12.5 percent over the contract term and two lump-sum payments, each equal to 3 percent of an employee's gross earnings in the preceding 12 months.

Elsewhere, Cincinnati Bell Telephone Co. and Communications Workers Locals 4400 and 4401, representing some 3,000 workers (operators, clerical employees, splicers, installers, and systems technicians), signed a new 3-year agreement after an 11-day work stoppage. Contract negotiations broke down after the parties were unable to agree on health care issues, particularly the sharing of health care costs by the employees. Thies was the major issue precipitating work stoppages at four of the regional "baby" Bell companies last year. All of the eventual "baby" Bell settlements provided for continued employer payment of health insurance premiums, partly offset in some cases by increased deductibles and coinsurance obligations for employees, and transfers to preferred provider plans. The regional "baby" Bell agreements have tended to set a pattern for local settlements, such as at Cincinnati Bell.

The contract provides for a $400 annual "health care allocation" in 1992 and 1993 for full-time workers and a prorated allocation for part-timers based on their hours worked. The company will withdraw money from the "health care allocation fund" (not to exceed the $400 or applicable prorated allocation) to pay for an employee's participation in the health care plan or in an approved helath maintenance organization (HMO) plan. As part of the new health care plan, most in-network services (those through a preferred provider organization) are covered 100 percent, while out-of-network services (those not through a preferred provider organization) are covered at 80 percent after a $200 deductible per individual and $500 deductible per family. Other changes in the health care plan (most of which are effective January 1, 1991) include the requirement for a second surgical opinion for certain surgical procedures; a newly established copayment of $3 for generic drugs and $7 for brandname drugs; preventive mammography screening; payment of outpatient psychiatric care at 60 percent of reasonable and customary costs; payment at 80 percent for certain other outpatient sevices, such as pre-admission testing and second surgical opinions; improvements in dental coverage; and various changes to post-retirement health care benefits.

Other terms of the accord call for wage increases of 2 percent in 1990 and 2.5 percent in both 1991 and 1992; a "success sharing plan," under which employees can potentially earn up to an additional 2 percent of "basic wages" in 1991, 3 percent in 1992, and 4 percent in 1993, based on Cincinnati Bell's financial and service performance; monthly pension benefit increases of 5 percent on October 1, 1990, and 4 percent on October 1 fo both 1991 and 1992; effective January 1, 1991, Cincinnati Bell's matching contribution to the savings and security plan increases to 60 percent (from 50 percent) of an employee's investment; a set of family care provisions, such as permitting employees to split 2 weeks of vacation (previously, 1 week) into increments of 1 day or more, allowing employees 1 excused day to attend to family concerns, and extending health care coverage during the first 6 months of an approved leave of absence for the care of a newborn child; a $4 daily differential for employees temporarily promoted to a higher paying job for 4 days or less; $9 per day for employees required to work at a different location than their normal worksite; 26-cent-a-mile travel reimbursement for employees using their own cars; and a $4.50 to $8 daily differential for employees designated to be in charge for 1 hour or more during any work tour.
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Title Annotation:Developments in industrial relations; Boston Edison Co., Cincinnati Bell Telephone Co.
Author:Cimini, Michael H.
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:Aug 1, 1990
Previous Article:Grocery agreements.
Next Article:Pulp and paper contracts.

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