Verizon Strike: Union Leaders’ Agenda ‘Rooted in the Past’

Edward GatelyNearly 40,000 Verizon wireline employees from Massachusetts to Virginia walked off the job Wednesday after contract negotiations reached an impasse.

The striking workers are members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). They include installers, customer service employees, repair workers and other service workers in Connecticut, Delaware, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

IBEW's Lonnie StephensonCWA and IBEW said Verizon wants to “gut job security protections, contract out more work, offshore jobs to Mexico, the Philippines and other locations, and require technicians to work away from home for as long as two months without seeing their families.” Verizon also is refusing to negotiate a “fair first contract for Verizon Wireless workers who formed a union in 2014,” they said.

“No one ever wants to go on strike – it’s always the last resort,” said Lonnie Stephenson, IBEW’s international president. “But Verizon’s refusal to bargain in good faith with employees and its insistence on gutting job security, retirement security and outsourcing good American jobs overseas gives us no choice.”

Despite making more than $39 billion in profit over the last three years, Verizon has “demanded major cutbacks from employees, while refusing to consider hundreds of millions of dollars in health care savings” offered by CWA and IBEW negotiators, he said.

“This is a chemically pure example of corporate greed in action,” Stephenson said. “We’ve been more than willing to work together with management to find ways to cut costs. But this isn’t about saving money. It’s about gutting good middle-class jobs and pushing a corporate race to the bottom for working families.”{ad}

Verizon said the unions were unwilling to make an agreement or even seek the assistance of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS). The company has activated its business-continuity plans as customer service “remains the company’s top priority,” it said.

“It’s regrettable that union leaders have called a strike, a move that hurts all of our employees,” said Marc Reed, Verizon’s chief administrative officer. “Since last June, we’ve worked diligently to try and reach agreements that would be good for our employees, good for our customers and make the wireline business more successful now and in the future. Unfortunately, union leaders have their own agenda rooted in the past and are ignoring …


… today’s digital realities. Calling a strike benefits no one, and brings us no closer to resolution.”

Verizon’s wireline business includes FiOS Internet, telephone and TV services. While the wireline unit represents Verizon’s legacy business, it generated about 29 percent of the company’s revenue in 2015 and less than 7 percent of operating income.

Verizon said its wireline proposal includes a 6.5 percent wage increase over the term of the contract, affordable health care benefits and competitive retirement benefits, including a 401(k) with a company match.

As part of Verizon’s business-continuity plans, starting immediately, trained non-union employees will cover for striking workers and provide customers with support and assistance, the company said.

“Millions of Americans rely on Verizon for the ability to communicate, 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said Bob Mudge, president of Verizon’s wireline network operations. “We remain fully prepared to handle any work stoppage so that our products and services will be available where and when our customers need them.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The ID is: 51185