Verizon workers are striking after a stall in union talks with Verizon management. It's unclear how long the stalemate will continue.
Some 45,000 Verizon workers, or roughly a quarter of the
carrier's employee base, have gone on strike across the country, potentially
disrupting everything from equipment repairs to new installations. Rallies and
picketing have reportedly
at dozens of Verizon work locations.
The striking workers hail from two unions, the CWA (Communications
Workers of America) and the IBEW (International Brotherhood of
Workers), whose leaders failed to reach an agreement with Verizon
over a contract that expired Aug. 6. The
unions claim Verizon wants too many vital concessions, particularly in
such as health-care coverage.
For its part, Verizon management is casting the union's
demands as out of touch with economic realities.
"It's no secret that the Wireline business has experienced a 10-year
decline in our customer base and in profitability, despite investing
billions in improving our network, processes and systems," Verizon CEO
McAdam wrote in an
Aug. 7 letter
posted on the carrier's Website. "We have arrived at the
point where we must make additional hard decisions to address customer needs
and the overall operating costs of the business."
The letter claimed "the existing contract provisions ... are not in line with the economic realities of
business today" and that "the changes we are requesting are similar to what the
CWA has already agreed to with other companies in our industry." McAdam also
cited the struggling U.S. auto industry as an example of what happens when
"needed adjustments" aren't made by labor and management.
According to the CWA, though, Verizon is the unreasonable
"Over months of negotiations, there has been no real
bargaining by Verizon management," read a statement posted
on the union's Website. "In fact, every major concession demand-more
than 100 in all-remains on the table."
That statement also suggested Verizon has more than enough
assets to meet those demands. "It has $100 billion in revenue and net profits
of $6 billion," it added. "Verizon Wireless just paid its parent company and
Vodaphone a $10 billion dividend. Verizon's executive compensation is sky-high,
and Chairman Ivan Seidenberg is paid 300 times what an average worker
reported Aug. 8
that Verizon has trained "managers and contractors" to
perform union worker duties while the two sides continue to negotiate. That
being said, a drawn-out standoff has the potential to disrupt repairs and
services, and perhaps encourage those on-the-fence customers to consider
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