Customers face delays in light of U S West strike

DENVER (AP) — Negotiators for U S West Inc. and its largest union will resume talks Wednesday, the fourth day of a strike that has idled about 34,000 workers in 13 states.
Hours after federal mediator Jim Mahon set the bargaining session Tuesday, U S West and the Communications Workers of America filed unfair labor practice complaints against each other with the National Labor Relations Board.
The company alleged the union is bargaining “with no intent to reach an agreement.” The union said U S West has failed to provide adequate information. Both sides denied the allegations.
Negotiations had broken off early Sunday with the start of the strike, the first against U S West since it was created in the 1984 breakup of AT&T.
For a second day, customers faced intermittent delays in directory assistance, installation and repair services as some 15,000 managers took the place of strikers.
Company spokesman David Beigie said there were two new cases of vandalism, including a Denver fire that destroyed telephone cables on Monday, affecting about 100 customers for about four hours, and a cut cable in Farmington, N.M., that disrupted pager service early Tuesday for a hospital and several doctors.
During the weekend, the company said damage caused small outages in Colorado Springs and Albuquerque, N.M.
Several crucial issues are unresolved, including mandatory overtime, health-care benefits, scheduling flexibility and a company plan to base bonuses of up to 20 percent on job performance for customer-sales representatives and repair technicians.
U S West has about 25 million customers in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Montana, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. Montana is not affected by the strike since U S West employees there belong to a different union.
The CWA recently reached agreements with the other regional Baby Bells, settling with Bell Atlantic after a brief strike last week.