CenturyLink Workers To Vote On Tentative Contract Deal

CenturyLink Workers To Vote On Tentative Contract Deal

This is the second time that a union negotiating team has reached a tentative deal with the company; union members, who are spread across 13 states, rejected the last offer.

A year-long contract dispute involving roughly 1,800 CenturyLink workers in Minnesota appears to have taken one more step toward a resolution—although the last tentative compromise fizzled.

The workers involved in the dispute are former employees of Denver-based Qwest Communications, which in 2011 merged with Monroe, Louisiana-based CenturyLink. A four-year contract covering about 13,000 such workers nationwide expired in October 2012.

It appeared in July that the union—Communications Workers of America (CWA), which represents CenturyLink workers in 13 western states—was nearing a deal with management. A union spokesman said at the time that the group’s negotiating team had struck a tentative deal with the company and a ratification vote would be held among union members.

But the CWA said a couple of weeks ago that the deal was a no-go, as its members voted to reject the offer.

Now, the union said that its bargaining team has struck a second tentative agreement with the company. The news comes in the wake of several bargaining sessions held last week, and CWA members are expected to vote on the new offer between now and October 25. The union distributed information to its members over the weekend regarding the tentative deal, although it did not disclose details of the deal itself.

CenturyLink spokesman Mark Molzen told Twin Cities Business in a Monday email that the tentative deal is “fair and equitable, given the significant changes in our competitive and operating environment since the current agreement was adopted.”

Molzen said that the new agreement is “substantially similar” to the prior tentative deal that union members rejected, although the two parties “agreed to clarify some language and to make a small modification to the 401(k) proposal for longer-service employees.”

In addition to Minnesota, the contract at stake covers former Qwest workers in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Iowa. The union has described as a key sticking point in the labor dispute rising health care costs. It has also taken aim at CenturyLink’s outsourcing of jobs to the Philippines and other locations.

CenturyLink workers will continue to work under an extension of their current contract during the voting process.