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Union rejects tentative CenturyLink deal

The Denver Post
Posted:  September 30, 2013 12:01:00 AM MDT


Members of CenturyLink's largest union have rejected the tentative multiyear contract the respective bargaining teams reached in July.

The Communications Workers of America District 7, which represents legacy Qwest employees, voted 54 percent to 46 percent to turn down the deal, according to an update that union leadership provided to members.

The pact would have covered 11,000 workers in 13 states, including about 2,000 in Colorado, District 7 said. CenturyLink acquired Denver-based Qwest in 2011.

The current contract, which had been extended on a temporary basis since expiring in October, is in effect until Thursday.

If the pact isn't extended again, the union could implement a strike or the company could authorize a lockout.

CWA District 7 spokesman Al Kogler said Sunday night: "No work stoppage is imminent. We'll have a statement in the morning."

CenturyLink spokesman Mark Molzen said: "While we understand the proposed agreement is a change from the contract in place today, we believe it is fair and equitable given the significant changes in our competitive and operating environment since the current agreement was adopted."


Votes had been due Friday.

In a letter to members dated Sept. 5, union leaders outlined two possible scenarios besides a strike or lockout if the tentative deal was rejected.

First, the parties could return to the bargaining table. Second, the company could terminate the contract that had been extended and implement the tentative agreement or portions of it.

"If we went on strike, it would be classified as an economic strike, meaning we could be permanently replaced," states the letter, signed by CWA District 7 Vice President Mary Taylor and bargaining committee chair Reed Roberts.  

The last time CWA-represented employees for the company went on strike was in 1998. The 15-day work stoppage cost CenturyLink predecessor US West, which merged with Qwest in 2000, an estimated $20 million.