Verizon Strike Brings Courts, Police Into Fray

Verizon Communications has obtained preliminary injunctions in several states in the Northeast in order to prevent workers on strike from using intimidation tactics and illegally blocking its facilities.

As of Thursday, Verizon had secured court orders in Delaware, Pennsylvania and New York and was in court to obtain injunctions in Massachusetts and New Jersey.

The New York-based company has reported more than 90 acts of sabotage” against its network facilities since Aug. 6., just before about 45,000 workers represented by two unions went on strike after a contract expired.

These acts temporarily affected service to thousands of customers across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, including police stations and other emergency responders,” the company said.

Verizon also noted it has obtained reports of union picketers intimidating drivers as well as illegally blocking entrances at garages and work centers.

The strike also has resulted in arrests. In one incident earlier this week, Baltimore County police arrested six picketers for illegally blocking an entrance at a facility in Randallstown, Md. In another incident, police reportedly took into custody two individuals in Salisbury, Md., for blocking non-striking employees from getting to work.

Some union strikers are engaging in criminal intimidation of Verizon employees, and we will not tolerate that,” Verizon Chief Security Officer Mike Mason said. Its a federal offense to damage or destroy critical communications equipment.”

Approximately 35,000 members of the Communications Workers of America and 10,000 members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers have been on strike this week after the unions were unable to reach an agreement with Verizon on a new agreement related to workers healthcare premiums, retirement benefits and other issues. About 70 Verizon Wireless workers also are on strike.

Verizon on Thursday said discussions were continuing in Rye Brook, N.Y. and Philadelphia.

The CWA claims Verizon is demanding $1 billion in annual concessions, which amounts to $20,000 per worker per year, even though the telecommunications giant brought home $19.5 billion in profits and paid out $258 million to its top five executives over the last four years.

They havent moved off any of their regressive demands,” said CWA Local 1122 President James Wagner, whose local represents nearly 600 workers in the Buffalo area, in a statement Thursday. Verizons way of negotiating is their way or the highway.”

In a letter that was sent to offices of the U.S. House and Senate, Verizon has explained it is trying to deal with economic realities in its shrinking wireline business.

The CWA also has sent a letter to congressional offices, and the union said Thursday that members of Congress have called on Verizon to bargain fairly in letters sent to Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam. One Congressman who has weighed in is Rep. Barney Frank, the veteran Democrat from Massachusetts.

Earlier this week, the 1.4 million-member Teamster Union voiced its support for Verizons workers on strike.

We cannot allow Verizon to strip away benefits and protections on the job for no other reason then to further enhance their profits,” Teamsters General President James A. Hoffa said. Verizons executives should be ashamed of their behavior demanding concessions that include outsourcing jobs, elimination of job security, freezing of pensions, raising health care costs and ending disability benefits all while taking home hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation.”

The Teamsters union has told UPS drivers not to deliver shipments to Verizon Wireless stores and other retail locations if they have to cross a picket line, according to the CWA.

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