The Communication Workers of America has voted to authorize a strike against the Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Company in Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia and the District of Columbia, union officals announced yesterday.
Members of the CWA executive board are expected to set a strike date at one of two meetings scheduled for today and Sunday, a spokesman said.
A strike by the 32,000 C&P employes would immediately affect the installation and repair of telephones, but would not substantially affect telephone service, both union and company officials agreed.
The contract dispute that led to the strike vote centers around a union claim that the company created two employe job classifications without negotiating with the union.
"Our contract requires C&P to negotiate a wage rate for any new job classification before such classification is placed into effect," said George Strick, vice president of the Communication Workers of American's District 2. "C&P created (the two positions) without negotiating with us in advance and without reaching an agreement on wages. So far as we are concerned, the new classification must be abolished," Strick said.
According to a company spokesman, however, the new classifications were established within the contract guidelines.
"What happens next is up to the union," said Robert Givler, C&P of Virginia's public information officer. "Obviously we don't want a strike, but we are resolute in our position."