CenturyLink workers reach temporary deal to avoid strike

Credit: Adam Worthington / KTVB

CenturyLink workers reach temporary deal to avoid strike

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by Andrea Lutz

Bio | Email | Follow: @KTVBandrealutz

KTVB.COM

Posted on October 6, 2012 at 10:26 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 5 at 2:43 PM

MERIDIAN -- CenturyLink and a workers union have reached a temporary deal to avoid a strike that could affect service to customers.

CenturyLink employs hundreds of people in the Treasure Valley and chances are many residents use their phone and internet services to stay connected.

Nationwide, contract negotiations have been taking place for months, between the company and two unions: the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; but they can’t agree on a deal.

The contract was set to expire Saturday at 11:59 p.m. and a little more than an hour shy of that deadline, the local union received a call from the district office saying the deadline was extended.

The CWA local 7603 has nearly 700 members from Mountain Home to Ontario. Executive Vice President Mike Frost said Sunday about 500 of them are CenturyLink employees.

“In a union, it's a lot like a family,” said Frost.

Frost also works for CenturyLink and has for about 9 years, in the DSL repair center.

“I think what we are asking for is very reasonable considering how incredibly profitable CenturyLink is,” said Frost.

The two parties have been trying to find a compromise, but the company and some 13,000 workers spanning 14 states, including Idaho, are failing to agree.

Instead they will take it day by day.

“We are going to continue to negotiate between all parties that are involved and our workers are going to continue to remain on the job,” said CenturyLink spokesman Mark Molzen.

Sunday, CenturyLink alerted the media of a temporary deal. They will continue to operate under the current contract, and employees will still report to work.  As for what is being negotiated -- Molzen said those specifics will remain top secret.

“We have exchanged proposals on a number of different topics and a number of different subjects but we respect the confidentiality of our discussions,” said Molzen.

Saturday night as the contract deadline approached, the CWA local 7603 got together - wondering if this all would lead to a strike.

“Nobody wants a strike,” explained Frost.

“It's kind of like the last option when neither side is talking but both sides are still talking they are coming to the table,” he said.

Frost believes they aren't asking for much; just to keep what they currently have.

“Nobody is trying to hit the work lotto, we are just trying to keep good jobs, good wages, good healthcare and jobs that are here in the United States we want to keep in the United States,” said Frost.

Although a temporary deal was handed down, a final agreement that will satisfy both sides -- remains in the works.

The local 7603 had talked about striking but say, employees will head to work on Monday. Molzen said the negotiation talks will continue on a daily basis, until an agreement is reached.

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