Nov. 25, 2002 – After spending nearly eight weeks on the picket lines, Innovative Telephone and Innovative Cable TV workers will return to work on Tuesday, phone company spokesman Thomas Dunn said on Monday.
However, Fred Joseph, the subdistrict director for the United Steelworkers of America, which represents the striking workers, said there were still issues to be resolved and he wasn't sure when they would go back to work.
He said around 4 p.m. on Monday that he was still waiting for Innovative to send the details of the back-to-work agreement. "They were supposed to send them at one o'clock," he said.
Joseph said that union members voted on Sunday to accept what Innovative officials described as their final offer.
The 315 workers, whose contract expired on Oct. 1, went on strike the next day primarily over pension issues. Under the old contract, Joseph said, Innovative paid $27 a month pension for every year served. The new contract calls for $29 a month for each year for workers who retire in the first year of the three-year contract. This means a person who spent 25 years on the job will get a pension of $725 a month.
Workers who retire in the second year of the contract will get $30.50 a month for each year worked, and those who retire in the third year will receive $31 a month for each year worked. The pensions are retroactive to Oct. 1.
While the pension issue is settled, Joseph said, still on the table is Innovative's refusal to take back 73 people who were replaced during the strike. The union wants those 73 individuals to get their jobs back.
An independent arbitrator will decide the fate of 21 workers who are alleged to have sabotaged phone lines and engaged in other misconduct. Innovative fired four of those people.
Joseph said the strike was worth while so that workers could have a decent retirement package. Dunn said he had no further details on the strike.
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