Deal Reached In Dispute With MN CenturyLink Workers

A union representing former employees of Qwest, which merged in 2011 with CenturyLink, will now hold a vote on whether to ratify the proposed contract deal.

After nearly a year of negotiations, a union representing CenturyLink workers in 13 western states—including roughly 1,800 in Minnesota—said late Tuesday that it has struck a tentative contract deal with the company.

A four-year contract covering former workers of Denver-based Qwest Communications—which in 2011 merged with Monroe, Louisiana-based CenturyLink—expired in October.

Negotiations for a new deal began about a year ago, but the two sides had been unable to reach a deal. Just before the expiration of the contract, members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) authorized a strike if a “fair contract” could not be reached with their employer.

The strike was averted, at least temporarily, when the two sides subsequently agreed to a day-to-day extension of the former contract.

The stalemate may soon be over, taking the threat of a strike off of the table. The CWA said Tuesday night that its bargaining team reached a tentative deal that would cover about 13,000 workers across the country.

In its own statement, CenturyLink also confirmed that a tentative deal has been reached.

The union said that the details of the proposed contract are being disseminated to workers, and a vote will now be held on whether to ratify the deal. The agreement “provides lump sum increases and wage increases,” according to the CWA.

“It also provides new limitations on CenturyLink’s ability to contract out and move call center work outside the footprint, and includes a commitment to return jobs that have been outsourced and offshored,” the CWA said.

A union spokesman told Twin Cities Business that members will vote on the contract, which would run through October 2017, throughout September.

CenturyLink President and CEO Glen F. Post III said in a statement that the deal will give employees “fair and equitable benefits and will better enable us to deliver on our mutual commitment to serve our customers.”

It gives employees “pay and benefits more closely aligned with similar jobs in their markets” and enables the company to “continue to provide good jobs while allowing the company to compete in a highly dynamic and competitive environment,” among other things, CenturyLink said.

In addition to Minnesota, the proposed agreement covers former Qwest workers in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Iowa.