Qwest, Unions Reach Agreement

Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE: Q) and its unions reached an agreement Sunday on a new contract, paving the way for the company to move ahead as the official telecommunications provider for this week's Democratic National Convention.

Most of the details of the pact were hammered out over the weekend in marathon meetings between Qwest, the Communications Workers of America, and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. The CWA represents nearly 19,000 workers in 13 states where Qwest provides telecommunications services, while the IBEW represents 200 workers in Qwest's Montana operation.

"This agreement achieves our major objectives of providing quality jobs, adequate health care, and wage and pension increases for our members," CWA VP Louise Caddell said in a statement. Teresa Taylor, executive VP and chief administrative officer of Qwest, added a statement from Qwest: "I appreciate the collaborative effort the bargaining teams made in confronting key issues facing employees."

As has been the case in many other labor agreements, health care was of paramount importance and both sides cited the amicable resolution of health care issues as key achievements in their negotiations.

Qwest, which is the smallest of the three former Regional Bell Operating Companies (AT&T and Verizon are the others), is the chief telecommunications contractor for both the Democratic and the Republican national conventions.

The Democratic convention kicks off later this week in Denver, also the headquarters of Qwest. The company is deploying more than 3,000 miles of fiber optic strands as well as thousands of data lines for the convention. More than 5,000 delegates and 15,000 media members are expected to attend the event in convention sites at the Pepsi Center and Invesco Field at Mile High.

— W. David Gardner, InformationWeek

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