(By Mark Hammond and Pamela Zepf, Staff reporters)
Troy - About 50 striking telephone workers and supporting union members from throughout the area rallied this morning in front of the New York Telphone Co. building on Sixth Avenue.
Rev. Marcia Lee Cutting, a Presbyterian minister from Stephentown and a member of Musicians' Local 13 of Troy, played her guitar and sang union songs.
"It seemed appropriate to support the folks on strike," said Cutting. "I think collective bargaining is a really significant part of this country."
Art Fleischner, president of the Troy Area Labor Council, said the rally was held from 6 to 7 a.m., "when the scabs and some of the management people come in."
Another rally was scheduled for noon today at the New York Telephone building on State Street in Albany. Some 300 to 400 members of various unions were expected to participate, Flesichner said.
New York Telephone Co. a part of NYNEXT Corp., is the only regional telephone company that has yet to settle contract negotiations with its workers. The Communications Workers of America struck regional telephone companies Aug. 10, when their contracts expired.
The issue preventing a settlement between New York Telephone workers and the company is a medical benefits provision, said James J. Devine, president of CWA Local 1116 in Troy. Other provisions of the three-year pact seem reasonable, he said.
Donna M. Conroy, vice presdent of CWA Local 1112, which represents operator services workers from Poughkeepsie to Buffalo, said the union is ready to settle as soon as the medical issue is resolved. The union will not make any concessions, and the medical issue would involve a concession, she said.
Morton Bahr, national president of the CWA, was expected in Troy Sunday for a tribute to Irish patriot and former Troy citizen James Connolly, but was apparently held up with negotiations in New York City and did not appear, Devine said.
Formal negotiations were to resume today.
Company officials have declined to comment on negotiations, except to say they are continuing.
[ Troy ]