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Now, I don’t know where I sit on this… laying off workers because of administration’s poor planning and lackluster leadership (note the alliteration, arts graduates!) is morally reprehensible, but is mandating that a company re-hire those people regardless of circumstance even worse?

Telus Management take note.. it’ll be a bunfight.


——– 20030712/ap_on_hi_te/verizon_layoffs&sid•573418 Verizon Ordered to Rehire 2,300 Workers

Fri Jul 11,10:44 PM ET

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By BRIAN BERGSTEIN, AP Business Writer

An arbitrator has ordered Verizon Communications Inc. to rehire 2,300 people in New York state who were laid off in December, striking a blow against the phone company’s cost-cutting efforts and racheting up the tension surrounding Verizon’s talks on a new labor contract.

Verizon had argued that the layoffs were justified because of a weak economy and toughening competition in the phone business from rival companies and new technologies.

But in a decision received Friday by the company and the Communications Workers of America, arbitrator Shyam Das ruled that those trends did not amount to discrete “external events,” as Verizon’s union contract specifies, that could justify the layoffs.

Verizon must reinstate the workers and give them back pay, minus the severance payments and unemployment benefits they received. Employees who were forced to transfer can return to their original locations.

“I’ve been in this business now since 1966 — 37 years — and I would say it’s the greatest victory in my lifetime,” said Larry Mancino, a Communications Workers of America vice president who represents the Northeast.

“The impact it’s going to have on our members’ lives is unbelievable. These people were living with very little hope of getting their jobs back.”

Another 1,100 employees in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Massachusetts have filed similar complaints with other arbitrators.

Verizon spokesman Peter Thonis said the company would comply with the arbitrator’s ruling in New York but would wait to see how the cases in the other states play out.

“We’re obviously disappointed with the arbitrator’s decision,” Thonis said. “We believe we followed the language of the contract.”

The decision will loom large over talks already underway between New York-based Verizon, the CWA and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers on a new contract for 75,000 of Verizon’s nearly 230,000 employees. The existing deal, which was reached after an 18-day strike in 2000, expires Aug. 2.

Verizon management is pressing the union to make concessions in job-security language, to enable Verizon to better compete in the turbulent telecommunications industry. Verizon says that would save jobs in the long run.

The union counters that such a demand “would rip the heart out of our contract.”

Now the arbitrator’s decision could make it harder for both sides to compromise.

Thonis said the ruling “doesn’t change the need for us to face the challenges facing our business.” But union officials said the ruling shows just how valuable the existing job-security language is to their members.

“I think my life will be in jeopardy if I ever give up that language,” Mancino said. “Now an arbitrator has given meaning to the language. I don’t think there’s any way we’d ever give it up.”

Verizon cut 18,000 jobs in 2002 — mainly through attrition and voluntary buyouts — which helped lower the domestic telecom division’s “operations and support” expenses to $22.3 billion from $23.6 billion the previous year, according to a March filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission ( news -web sites ).

Mancino said rehiring the 2,300 laid-off New York workers would cost Verizon $100 million. Thonis said the cost was less than $25 million, but he would not disclose the exact number because he said it was immaterial to Verizon’s bottom line.


Wall Street didn’t appear fazed. Verizon shares were up 67 cents to