After agreeing to a day-to-day extension of their existing agreement over the weekend, the unions representing more than 13,000 employees of CenturyLink Communications and representatives of the Monroe, La.-based company continued negotiations Monday.
The previous contract expired at 11:59 p.m. Saturday, but with the extension, employees will keep working as negotiations continue this week, said Al Kogler, spokesman for the Communications Workers of America. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers also is involved in the negotiations.
Details from both sides remained scarce Monday. Mark Molzen, a CenturyLink spokesman, said both sides will conduct meetings this week and “remain optimistic that a deal is going to be reached.”
“We’ve exchanged proposals on a number of topics,” he said, “but aside from that, I’m going to respect the confidentiality of our discussions.”
Kogler said there are two primary sticking points in the new deal, which is expected to be another four-year agreement — the cost of health care premiums, and the return of jobs to the United States.
Currently, Kogler said, employees pay about 7 percent of their health care premiums, but CenturyLink negotiators are hoping to push that to closer to 30 percent.
In terms of U.S. jobs, Kogler said there are customer service positions and other call center roles that have been sent overseas that the CWA would like to bring back to create jobs for American workers.
“We would like to find some equilibrium,” he said.
The CWA represents about 700,000 workers in telecommunications, media, airlines, manufacturing, public service and health care, including 437 CenturyLink employees in Nebraska and 928 in Iowa.
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