CenturyLink Tentative Agreement Q & A

Q: Did we get 8% or 8.25%?

A: We got 3%, 2.5%, 2.5% but compounded that is 8.22%


Q: Is this a new contract or an extension?

A: Both. We have changes in the disability plans and the health care premiums as well as new ratification and expiration dates. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that was signed states that all language that was not discussed at the bargaining table will be extended through the life of the agreement.


Q: Why the change in the length of the contract?

A: The Company wanted 2 years and we wanted 3; however, we did not want the contract to expire during Local Elections or the Presidential election in 2020. We reached an agreement on an expiration date of March 28, 2020.


Q: Our new raise goes into effect June 18, 2017 but we do not have to pay increased medical premiums until January 1, 2018. Is that correct?

A: Yes, that is correct. You will receive a wage increase 5 ½ months before medical premiums go up.


Q: Do we give up any appeal rights on cases that are denied by CDS?

A: No. Appeal rights will be the same as they are today.


Q: Does all of the language in the contract stay the same? Does this include Letters of Agreement?

A: All of the current language not addressed at bargaining stays the same through March 28, 2020. The current Letters of Agreement and Letters Outside of the Contract that currently have an effective date through the life of the current agreement will be extended through the new expiration date of March 28, 2020.


Q: Are the premium rates per pay period.

A: Yes.


Q: Why does the Bargaining Committee recommend this Tentative Agreement?

A: At the end of 2016 the Company approached CWA with their bargaining priority: bring all of the Legacy Qwest bargained for employees under the same health care plan as the management and non-represented employees. Their CDHP costs more and has higher out- of- pocket costs and deductibles with a lower Health Reimbursement Account (HRA). The Company also wanted to eliminate the PPO, cut STD to 26 weeks, make changes to the 401(k) and reduce the life insurance benefit.

Early limited bargaining allowed CWA to make substantial gains in base wages that will help offset the rising cost of healthcare for our members. We also preserved the benefits and contract language we have today.


Q: Have there been any changes in retiree healthcare for either pre-Medicare or Medicare eligible employees?

A: There are no changes to retiree healthcare. The current subsidies (caps) that the Company contributes to retiree healthcare will stay the same.


Q: Are the healthcare premiums going to be based on the yearly gross wage or will overtime, differentials and commissions be included?

A: Premiums are based on base weekly wages only, just as they are now.


Q: Does the 52 weeks of Short Term Disability apply per occurrence or will it apply to a combination of occurrences? What happens if you have two separate incidents?

A: STD cases involving an original Disability Case and one or more unrelated absences that are determined to be new Disability Cases vary based on your years of service and on your hire, rehire or transfer date.

Employees hired, rehired or transferred prior to 1/1/2018 will be eligible for:

Effective 1/1/2018 - no change to current Relapse of Unrelated Absence – Effective 1/1/2019 through 12/31/2020 - 12 months in any consecutive 18 month period regardless of the number or length of the cases, but not to exceed the STD Maximum Benefit Period of 9 months for any one claim.

Employees hired, rehired or transferred on or after 1/1/2018 will be eligible for:

Nine (9) months in any consecutive twelve (12)-month period regardless of the number or length of the cases, but not to exceed the STD Maximum Benefit Period of 26 weeks/182 calendar days for any one claim.


Q: Will employees still receive $750 for waiving insurance?

A: Yes, employees will receive an annual $750 waiver fee that is paid bi-weekly.


Q: Is there a solution in the Short Term Disability plan for someone that needs multiple surgeries or procedures stemming from the same medical condition or work- related injury?

A: Yes, if it is related to the same disability, there are provisions for a medical extension for Short Term Disability.

The Relapse Wait Period shall not apply to participants who, during their initial commencement of an STD claim under the plan, have treatment plan for their disability which has an anticipated short term recovery but subsequent disabling medical condition(s) which are or may be anticipated to require an extended course of treatment


Q: Can we share the information that was sent out by the Bargaining Committee with the membership?

A: Yes, all information will be included in the ratification packet as well.


Q: Please explain the premium share. I am still not clear on this.

A: Medical costs continue to increase. The premium share is based on a medical inflation rate of 10.8% We held premium share increase to 1.5%, 2% & 2% of the rates that include an inflation rate of 10.8% for each year of the extension. Currently we pay 20% of the overall cost and the Company pays 80%.

See chart below.

                    Portion of cost we pay                        What the Company pays

2017            20%                                                    80%

2018            21.5%                                                 78.5%

2019            23.5%                                                 76.5%

2020            25.5%                                                 74.5%

The premium costs printed in the Tentative Agreement also factor in the increased costs of healthcare that go up year over year 10.8% on average based over the last 3 years.


Q: Are these medical premiums fixed or can we expect them to go up if Congress passes a new health care plan?

A: These are hard numbers and are locked in through the life of the contract.


Q: Are we still getting the bargaining t-shirts?

A: Yes, but you must order them by May 31, 2017; if we don’t have your order in you will not get a T-Shirt. Text the word Shirt to 69866, or follow this link to order https://district7.wufoo.com/forms/solidarity-shirts/


Q: Is there a medical pension available for employees who have a TOE of 15 years and above?

A: There is no medical/disability pension. It was eliminated in 2001. Short Term and Long Term Disability are still available for those that qualify. If you are pension eligible and go on Long Term Disability your pension payment will be deducted from your disability payment.


Q: Will Healthcare Premium rates rise when I hit the next wage band in the premium chart? Example: I am currently in the 30-49K range and in June my wage increase pushes me over $50,000 into the 50-69K range?

A: When your weekly base wage hits the next rate band your premiums will go to that rate immediately.


Q: Why don’t we use COLA?

A: COLA has not been negotiated since the 1980’s; it has not been the norm in our telecom bargaining since then.


Q: What are the total projected healthcare costs for the legacy Qwest bargaining unit?

A: In 2017 it was $157,972,000, for 2018 $175,214,000, and for 2019 $194,200,000


 Q: Will the wage increases we receive over the term of this agreement cover the increased costs of healthcare for Single coverage and Family coverage?

 A: *This was answered incorrectly on the call, and needed more research. For the majority of the bargaining unit, the wage increases will cover healthcare increases. The premiums are based on weekly base wages. Those who are paid less in wages pay less for healthcare, but this did not mitigate the increases for some wage scales enrolled in family coverage. We did ask to raise those brackets and the Company refused. We also asked for additional money in the HRA for this group and the Company refused.


Q: Are the Locals responsible for the ratification vote?

A: Yes. Results have to be reported to District 7 by Friday June 16, 2017 at noon.


Q: Where do the rates for the premiums come from? Are they supplied by CenturyLink or CWA?

A: The Company provides the total healthcare costs to CWA and we provide that to our research department as we work through them. Premiums are determined by the total healthcare costs which are based on claims and usage.


Q: What is the STD payment schedule?

A: Currently there is a payment schedule set up for how you will get paid on the STD based on years of service for those hired prior to January 1, 2009, and a flat payout for those hired after January 1, 2009. That schedule will be updated and sent out with the contract ratification material. There are no changes until 2019.


Effective 1/1/2019 through 12/31/2020 - Your STD Benefit Payment schedule:
(hired on or before 12/31/2008)

If your years of service are…

100% of Normal Take-Home
Pay for up to….

60% of Normal Take-Home 
Pay for up to…..

Less than 10 yrs*  
10 yrs - less than 15 yrs13 weeks26 weeks
15 yrs - less than 20 yrs21 weeks18 weeks
20 yrs – less than 25 yrs30 weeks9 weeks
25 or more yrs39 weeks0 weeks

*We have no one in this group that actually falls under the 60% benefit. This group falls under the 1/1/2009 and after benefit plan.

Hired after 1/1/2009

Upon Eligibility- 1 year or more of service70% of base pay up to 39 weeks