Verizon prevails in arbitration brought by CWA alleging violation of collective bargaining agreement and past practice
Clients Verizon Pennsylvania Inc.
Jones Day represented Verizon Pennsylvania Inc. ("Verizon") in an arbitration brought by the Communications Workers of America (the "Union") concerning Verizon's alleged violation of the collective bargaining agreement and past practice by using Service Technicians ("Service Techs") to install Verizon Advanced Termination System (or VATS) terminals for Verizon's fiber optic FiOS network. The Union argued that the work of installing terminals had always been the exclusive jurisdiction of a different position, Splicing Technicians ("Splicers" or "Spicing Techs"). In light of this alleged past practice, the Union claimed that Verizon could not ask Service Techs to install VATS terminals.
Verizon argued that the Union's grievance was meritless because the work assigned was never exclusively Splicing Tech work. Testimony and agreements between the parties demonstrated that Service Techs had, for over forty years, installed terminals and that, as a result, no work was being taken away from Splicers. Moreover, advances in technology allowed VATS terminals to be pre-spliced by an outside factory with no in-field splicing required. As such, the new technology underlying the VATS system eliminated any need to have the higher skilled and trained Splicers install VATS terminals.
Arbitrator Lawrence Coburn, relying on a long line of decisions between the parties, ruled that changed circumstances obviated any need to have Splicers perform the challenged work. Since the routine installation tasks associated with VATS terminals did not require splicing skills, Arbitrator Coburn denied the Union's grievance. The Union had sought monetary damages in an amount of approximately $1 million.
In the Matter of Arbitration between Verizon Pennsylvania Inc. and Communications Workers of America, Grievance #13-06-204V