Qwest reaches agreement with unions

Agreement with two labor unions averts potential strike that could have disrupted service for the Democratic and Republican national conventions.

Qwest Communications International has reached a tentative agreement with two labor unions averting a potential strike that could have disrupted service for the Democratic and Republican national conventions to be held in the next few weeks.

On Monday, Qwest and its largest labor union, the Communications Workers of America, said that they had agreed on a three-year deal that will cover some 20,000 Qwest employees in 13 states who are represented by the union.

Qwest also reached a tentative agreement with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which represents employees in Montana.

Qwest's union workers had authorized a strike if a settlement was not reached between the two sides starting when their contracts expired at 11:59 p.m. Saturday. But a deal was reached, averting the strike. Details of the plan were not released, and the general membership of the unions still must approve it.

Qwest, based in Denver, is providing communication services for the Democratic National Convention, which will be held there in a little more than a week. Qwest also is providing service for the Republican National Convention, which begins September 1 in St. Paul, Minn.

Officials had worried that a strike would disrupt the conventions. Now that a tentative agreement has been reached, an organizer for the CWA told the Associated Press that he does not expect any disruptions from his union members during the conventions.

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