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Statement by CWA President Morton Bahr Regarding Job Issues at Bell Atlantic and NYNEX

CWA has a written agreement with Bell Atlantic and NYNEX that guarantees there will be no involuntary layoffs of union members, and which greatly limits the transfer of personnel, as a result of the merger. This agreement runs through August 30, 1998. We will be negotiating a new agreement next summer to extend that commitment.

CWA members are the front line workers who deal directly with customers and maintain technology. Our members are the key to providing quality service -- the competitive edge for the new Bell Atlantic in an increasingly competitive industry.

We have assurances from top company officials that this merger is about growth of business for the long term, not a predatory slash and burn strategy for the short-term gratification of Wall Street speculators. That's why CWA supported the merger, and in exchange, workers gained a promise of job security. We expect Bell Atlantic to keep this promise, hopefully, without a strike. But this is a strike issue.

State regulators and the public also received promises from Bell Atlantic and NYNEX that they would work to improve service quality, especially in New York where service problems admittedly were worsened by excessive downsizing to reduce costs quickly rather than smartly. The public was assured that the new Bell Atlantic would remain committed to providing quality service, universally available and affordable, even as it looks toward lucrative new areas, such as the fat long distance market in the Northeast.

Bell Atlantic and NYNEX also have a promise to keep to Congress and the American people. The Telecommunications Act of 1996, which allowed this merger to take place, was based on the proposition that deregulation would result in the growth of high-skilled, good-paying jobs, and would provide new opportunity for the future. The CEOs of these companies and others promised Congress that this was so.

Make no mistake -- in CWA's negotiations with the new Bell Atlantic next year, our chief goal will be to make certain that the company keeps its promises -- to the 75,000 employees we represent, those skilled, experienced workers who really make Bell Atlantic work -- as well as to phone customers in the region, and to the American people.

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