Early settlement at NYNEX

Early settlement at NYNEX – collective bargaining contract

Michael H. Cimini

More than 16 months before their labor contract was to expire, NYNEX, the parent company of the New York and New England Telephone companies, and its major union, the Communications Workers of America, extended their collective bargaining agreement for 3 years. The pact, which covers 35,000 workers, provides nearly full protection against layoffs, downgrades, and involuntary transfers for union members while the company cuts its work force by 16,800 over the next 3 years. NYNEX is downsizing to meet the competitive challenges of being a player in a multimedia industry.

The agreement provides break-throughs in education assistance, allowing employees to upgrade their skills and further their formal education and allowing the company to tackle imbalances in the work force. A 2-year associate degree program in telecommunications technology is instituted for all craftworkers. If accepted in the program, participants work 4 days a week and attend school on company time on the fifth day. In addition, full-time employees with at least 5 years of service are eligible for up to 2 years of educational leave without pay, but with full benefits and seniority and up to $10,000 of tuition assistance each year.

Under terms of the job protection program, which the union claims “sets new employment security standards for the industry,” adversely affected employees have a number of options available to them. They can, in order, voluntarily transfer to vacancies in their occupations, accept early retirement, voluntarily separate from the company with a severance package, or transfer to jobs within their geographic area. The company also agreed to return to the bargaining unit work that previously had been subcontracted, to refrain from using temporary workers, and to offer adversely affected employees job sharing if they still fact layoffs.

The agreement provides wage increases of 4 percent in August 1994 and 1995 and 3.5 percent in August 1996; bonuses of $500 in March 1996, $600 in March 1997, and $700 in March 1998 if NYNEX meets service standards established by State regulations; and a cost-of-living adjustment in May 1997 equal to 0.75 percent of pay for each percentage point rise in the Consumer Price Index for Wage Earners and Clerical Workers above 8 percent in the previous 2 years.

In the pension area, the contract provides incentives to encourage early retirement by crediting employees with 6 years of service and 6 years of age to qualify for normal retirement (employees qualify for normal retirement after they work 30 years or their age and number of years of service equal or exceed 75), provides a monthly supplement of $500 or 30 percent of pay until age 62, and increases the minimum monthly pension to $400 after 15 years of service. It also boosts the pension benefits by at least 5 percent in 1998.

The agreement calls for the company to continue to pay for the full cost of health insurance. It also maintains the current indemnity plan and provides monetary incentives for employees to participate in an optional managed care program, a $300 lump-sum payment per employee if at least 40 percent join the new plan and $400 if at least 70 percent join.

The contract increases the company’s flexibility in making work assignments; enhances job security by reducing the number of work classifications for technicians and clerical workers; extends employer neutrality towards the union and recognition through a card check to new lines of business established or acquired by NYNEX; boosts dependent care funding by $1.5 million each year, providing $7 million over the term of the agreement; makes employees eligible for direct subsidies for dependent care; and allows workers returning from maternity leave to work part time for up to 12 months.

COPYRIGHT 1994 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group