39,000 Verizon Workers Go on Strike

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Striking Verizon workers picket outside a Verizon office on Wednesday, April 13, 2016, in Albany, N.Y.

Striking Verizon workers picket outside a Verizon office on Wednesday, April 13, 2016, in Albany, N.Y.

At 6:00 a.m. this morning, 39,000 Verizon workers throughout the Northeastern U.S. from two unions went on strike after their self-stated deadline for a new contract passed.

The strike is in response to the workers’ opposition to proposed measures in their new contracts that could cut pension benefits and make outsourcing work easier. Their previous contracts expired around eight months ago, and talks between the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the two unions, and Verizon have broken down.

According to the IBEW[1], the unions have been willing to make accommodations to Verizon, but that effort has not been reciprocated.

“The problem is, they can’t keep getting what they want without giving us anything that we need. It’s not a real negotiation when one side moves and the other digs their feet in,” said East Windsor, N.J., Local 827 Business Manager Bob Speer.

Of course, Verizon has refuted this in their own statement[2], criticizing the unions for refusing to consult the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

“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,” said Verizon’s chief administrative officer, Marc Reed.

“The CWA president, Chris Shelton, claims that they have tried ‘everything’ to get a path to a contract, but their failure to agree to FMCS mediation suggests otherwise,” he added.

Most of the striking workers are Verizon’s wireline workers — they work on landlines, fiber optics, repairs and customer service — but a small fraction are Verizon Wireless employees, allowing the unions to picket outside Verizon stores.

This has resulted in events held outside Verizon stores, including a few in the area. Within Philadelphia, demonstrators gathered outside the Verizon Wireless store on 9th and Race this morning. The CWA website[3] has a map for where you can find other protests, as well. Protests were scheduled for this morning in Mt. Laurel, Robbinsville and Hamilton, NJ and West Chester, Aston, Ardmore, Conshohocken, Trooper, West Norristown and at two locations in King of Prussia.

According to Verizon, they have been preparing for this and will not have any drop in productivity or service due to the strike.

“Over the past year, Verizon took extensive measures to ensure its customers would be minimally impacted by any potential work stoppage,” the release stated. “Thousands of non-union Verizon employees and business partners have undergone extensive training in various network and customer service functions, including FiOS and copper repair and network maintenance and general customer service functions.”

Follow Matt Sheridan[4] on Twitter.

Endnotes:
  1. IBEW: http://www.ibew.org/media-center/Articles/16Daily/1604/160412_Verizon
  2. statement: http://www.verizon.com/about/news/cwa-and-ibew-leaders-call-strike-against-verizon-and-its-customers
  3. website: http://www.cwa-union.org/
  4. Matt Sheridan: http://twitter.com/sheridangerous

Source URL: https://www.phillymag.com/business/2016/04/13/verizon-strike-philadelphia/