Officials of the Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. and negotiators for the Communications Workers of America are scheduled to meet this afternoon in an attempt to head off a strike Monday by approximately 30,000 telephone company employes.
Local union officials have set a strike deadline for noon Monday if a dispute between management and the union involving automation cannot be resolved. Both union and company officials said yesterday they are prepared to meet over the weekend.
The dispute involves pay rates for two new positions created by C&P in September, including a job in which clerical employes use a computer to perform work previously done by technicians paid $124 more a week than the clericals.
In addition to pay rates, at issue in the negotiations is whether the company properly implemented the new positions. According to a telephone company spokesman, the National Labor Relations Board has upheld the company's actions in creating the new jobs and hiring for them.
"By noon Monday we either reach an agreement or we'll be on strike," said Ed Lewinski, chairman of the CWA's bargaining committee.
In preparation, C&P has begun handing out assignments to supervisory personnel "to handle the daily operations of our business as best we can," said Web Chamberlain, spokesman for C&P. In the event of a strike, telephone installations might be postponed and other customer services might be delayed, said Chamberlain. "We would try to provide repair service for people who are out entirely," he said.
In addition Chamberlain said that directory assistance and long distance operators might be slower to respond. "It depends on how prolonged it is and how many people stay out," he said.
Negotiations over the job broke off Nov. 27, after the company indicated it expected little progress to come out of future bargaining sessions at that point, according to Chamberlain. Talks resumed on Wednesday.