CenturyLink workers approve strike; company expects no disruption
LAS CRUCES, Feb 14, 2013 (Las Cruces Sun-News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
CenturyLink technicians who visit homes and companies to fix phone and Internet problems or perform installations could soon go on strike.
CenturyLink says if that happens, service will not be disrupted.
The Communication Workers of America report that its executive board has authorized the setting of a strike date for its CenturyLink workers in 13 states, including New Mexico. So far, no date has been set.
Eddie Trevizo, president of CWA Local 7001-- which covers Las Cruces and Dona Ana County as well as Hatch, Deming and Alamogordo -- said that CenturyLink provides service to about 70 percent of the customers in Las Cruces. He said 95 percent of the more than 150 workers in Las Cruces voted to approve a potential strike.
"It's boots-on-the-ground (workers)," Trevizo said. "Basically it's the guys who knock on your doors and do installation and services."
He said the workers were "more than willing to strike," as the union and CenturyLink continue a months-long negotiation about areas such as health care costs, outsourcing of jobs and the use of contractors to do union work.
Mark Molzen, a spokesman for CenturyLink, said that the company still hopes to avoid a strike.
"We were at the negotiating table today," he said on Thursday. "That's still the best place to resolve issues and offers the best opportunity for a fair and equitable agreement. We're negotiating in good faith."
If there is a strike, Molzen said that the
company is prepared to hire workers to ensure service does not stop.
"We do have a plan," he said.
According to a union release, the CWA bargaining team has been working for a contract at CenturyLink since negotiations began on Aug. 15. The contract expired in October but has been extended while bargaining continues. CWA represents 13,000 workers at CenturyLink, in: Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota and Iowa.
Liz Villa is a CenturyLink customer and said she will not stress about a possible strike.
"I have home phone service, but am not concerned," she said on the Sun-News Facebook page. "Much luck to them."
Brian Kirby, though, said he is worried about a possible strike.
"I am a customer, and I depend on my Internet service provider in a big way," he said. "I am very seriously considering a change in my ISP, because I cannot afford it if my service is interrupted."
Brook Stockberger may be reached at 575-541-5457; follow him on Twitter @Bstockberger
On the web
-- Communication Workers of America: cwa-union.org
-- CenturyLink: centurylink.com
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