Verizon Communications on Monday revealed that its fiber-optic lines have been deliberately cut in parts of Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Maryland as part of several acts of sabotage” that have occurred since Saturday just before 45,000 workers went on strike this week after two unions representing the employees failed to reach an agreement with the telecommunications giant on a new contract.
Verizon also reported an outage due to stolen electrical equipment in Cedar Grove, N.J., and an incident that resulted from tampering with a heating system at a central office in Manhattan.
These acts of sabotage are reprehensible. In addition to inconveniencing our customers, these deliberate disruptions of our network have affected hospitals, paramedics, fire fighters, law enforcement and other first responders,” Verizon Chief Security Officer Mike Mason said in a statement. Verizon is working closely with local authorities to investigate these sabotage incidents, and identify and prosecute those responsible to the fullest extent of the law. And we will not hesitate to terminate any employee who may be involved in these acts.”
Verizon also claims that union picketers are illegally preventing it from accessing tools to serve customers. Verizon said it has obtained a statewide injunction in Pennsylvania against such activities and is pursuing similar action elsewhere.
New York-based Verizon is offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of individuals that have intentionally damaged its cables or facilities or cause or attempt to cause physical injury to a Verizon employee or contractor.
Verizon claims its customers are only experiencing minimal impact” from the strike by 45,000 employees represented by two unions, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and International Brotherhood of Electronic Workers (IBEW).
Customers may encounter slightly longer hold times when calling Verizons sales and service centers and slightly longer waits for repair service during this time,” Verizon stated in a press release.
The unions, which represent workers in Verizons wireline business stretching from Virginia to New England, have been squabbling with Verizon over such matters as pensions, healthcare benefits and pay increases.
The CWA and IBEW have portrayed Verizon as a greedy company that has demanded $1 billion in concessions annually despite bringing home $19.5 billion in profits and paying out $258 million to its top five executives over the last four years. Verizon claims concessions are needed in order to deal with economic realities in its shrinking landline business.
The strike involves employees represented by the unions in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
The dispute does not involve employees of Verizon Wireless, the largest U.S. wireless operator jointly owned by Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group, Plc.