Western Union Gains Concessions

By Ruben, George | Monthly Labor Review, October 1985 | Go to article overview
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Western Union Gains Concessions

Ruben, George, Monthly Labor Review

Financially troubled Western Union Corp. gained some labor cost relief in a settlement with the United Telegraph Workers that ended a 10-day strike. Bargaining continued with the Communications Workers union for 600 workers in the New York City area who continued their stoppage.

In announcing the 2-year accord, UTW President Richard Brockert said, "What we are doing is turning a very generous contract into a very good contract. We preserved as much as we could, yet we gave the company flexibility."

Company Chairman Robert S. Leventhal, who has indicated that he wants to eliminate about 2,000 of the 7,100 jobs in the two bargaining units, said, "Tough decisions had to be made, and both parties had to face up to them." The company, which had already eliminated 1,500 non-union jobs since December 1984, lost $63.3 million in 1984 and $25 million in the first half of 1985.

The UTW members will receive a 3-percent wage increase in the second contract year. In lieu of a first-year wage increase, they will be eligible for possible profit-sharing distributions after the close of calendar years 1986 and 1987. The possible distributions, in the form of deferred stock, would be financed by Western Union obligations equal to 8 percent of the first $50 million of company profits in each year, 10 percent of the next $50 million, and 12 percent of any profit above $100 million.

Other provisions included:

* Elimination of a "comparable job" clause which guaranteed that any worker with at least 5 years of service would remain on the payroll for a period equal to his or her tenure if the job was eliminated and a comparable job was not available.

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