CWA Local 7800

August 2013

I’ll first start by saying we are still bargaining with MV and IATSE. I do feel we are very close to IATSE, just kind of waiting to hear back from them. Since we won the board charge we had filed and the board ruling indicated the practice at issue was not illegal that has helped move the talks forward. MV has bargaining scheduled again to meet on August 12th and 13th. I will be out of town from August 12th to the 22nd, so Craig will be filling in for me at the MV table.

We have a tentative agreement with CenturyLink. So clearly some movement there. The agreement has several major changes regarding healthcare for both the active and retiree groups. There are significant changes in some job titles with the addition to some and renaming of others. Wage replacements for illness, contracting and cross jurisdiction agreements are all in there.

Last Saturday we had an initial bargaining explanation with the Bargaining Team and that call lasted over 7 hours (my worst nightmare)… while many questions were answered many remain. The District is working on getting as much information together as they can. The final bargaining report did have some errors (omissions) and not a lot of detail. Many of these changes we really need the detail to make an informed decision. On August 5th there was a call specific to retiree healthcare that I listened to, so I gained a bit more information regarding the healthcare plans but the Consumer Driven option remains somewhat a mystery to me. I see what the premiums are, I see what the company is willing to give but I don’t know what is covered in the plan, or how that works with current providers etc…

The bargaining Agents indicated that CenturyLink simply flat out refused to consider continuing the HMO options and when pressed as to why the company could really only say that the HMO’s did not give a breakdown of costs only a summary. The Bargaining Team pointed out that the HMO’s had agreed to contracted rates so they would accept the contracted rate as payment in full regardless if they got the breakdown or not. It appears for the last several years though CenturyLink has been paying the HMO’s the full billing instead of paying for the contracted rates. I am still a bit unclear on how that worked out if their complaint is not getting itemized billing then how would they know what they are paying for at all.

We have time to figure this out and to ensure all the members should have the opportunity to get all their questions addressed. We will be mailing the contract summary out no later than Sept 5th. That mailing will have dates and times of additional contract explanation meetings. The votes will need to be at the local by the 3rd week so we will have at least a 2 week window to have those final meetings. In the meantime as additional information comes out in electronic version, we will share that information as well. I do understand we have many people in outlying areas and will see what we can do to accommodate those folks either in person or by conference call.

I also understand from feedback many folks initially seemed disappointed and I will tell you at first read I also was in some disbelief. However, after spending several hours on conference calls and reading the contract again, I would say simply- if people are just reading the summary that has been provided with no additional data, it would be impossible to make an informed decision. So I really do want everyone to make sure they get their questions answered but also to participate in the contract explanation meetings to be sure things you think you understand, that in fact you do. I read a few things and interpreted one way only to figure out that my initial understanding was incorrect but for the most part the summary was somewhat vague…. I do know that since the initial Saturday conference call they have been working on the summary to be more explanatory and at last count had gone from a 20 page document to a 40 page document. Obviously I am not going to try and explain it all in this report.

The August Membership Meeting is August 13th. Due to other commitments I will be out of town and I won’t even be able to participate via phone. Michael Lynch is also out of town, so that pretty much leaves Craig to run the meeting which is fine. He is quite capable, but that being said, he will not have all the information on the contract at that time. He will be able to answer questions but I would encourage folks to either attend the September membership meeting or the contract explanation meeting after the officers have had more time to be trained themselves on all the changes.

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