Verizon workers have voted to authorize a strike if the unions can’t reach an accord with the telecommunications giant.
Thirty-nine thousand wireline employees in the District of Columbia and nine eastern states are covered under collective bargaining agreements that expire on Aug. 1.
On Saturday, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) announced that 86 percent of Verizon workers have voted to authorize a strike if necessary.
Dennis Trainor, vice president for CWA District One, characterized Verizon’s demands as “completely outrageous and unwarranted.”
“Our members are clear and they are determined they reject management’s harsh concessionary demands, including the elimination of job security, sharp increases in workers’ health-care costs, and slashing retirement security,” he said in a statement.
The talks between Verizon and the unions can become impassioned, as occurred four years ago when around 45,000 employees went on strike after the CWA and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) were unable to reach a new contract with the telecommunications company.
Union employees this weekend rallied in New York as they call for Verizon to play fair.
“Union rallies and strike authorization votes are useless distractions that achieve nothing,” Verizon spokesman Richard Young said in a statement. “We believe their time would be far more beneficial focusing on the important contractual issues that need to be resolved.”
Last month, the company said it offered a 2 percent wage increase that would take effect later this summer so long as a contract was signed by Aug. 1. Verizon’s proposal also included a 2 percent wage increase one year later and a $1,000 lump sum payment in the third year.
“Verizon has presented the CWA and IBEW with a solid proposal that recognizes the changing communications landscape and offers a path towards success,” Young added. “Rather than yelling on the streets of New York, we hope the unions work with us on ways that will continue to ensure solid, upper middle-class jobs for our employees and exceptional services for our customers.”