Verizon Agrees to Workplace Mediation with 45,000 Workers
In a dramatic about-face, telecommunications giant Verizon Communications has agreed to submit to federal workplace mediation with unions that represent over 45,000 workers. The process will be overseen by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS).
Which Unions are Involved in the Mediation Services?
The unions that Verizon is dealing with are the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
Together, these two labor unions are representing workers in New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Deleware, and the district of Columbia. The workers involved are primarily wireline workers.
What is this Workplace Mediation For?
Last year, workers went on strike for 15 days after Verizon expressed interest in cutting worker benefits. Since that time, no new contractual agreement has been reached. While workers did end the strike, it was under the condition that they work under the previous contract until a new one could be negotiated.
Verizon claims it needs to make the cuts because customers are increasingly going wireless, and wired service profits have fallen.
What's Next for Verizon and the Unions?
Neither side is expected to publicly say much about the negotiations. FMCS director George H. Cohen stated earlier that, "Because of the sensitivity of thee negotiations...the FMCS and the parties will refrain from any public comment," during mediation services.
While the federal workplace mediation services do not provide legally binding solutions (that is the area of arbitration services), the FMCS's help is expected to go a long way towards helping Verizon and the unions hammer out their year-long dispute.