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Verizon Wireline Workers Go On Strike

Fill-in employees step in as contract negotiations fail with union wireline workers.

About 5,400 Verizon wireline employees are among the 45,000 workers on strike after contract talks broke off after midnight Saturday, when a three-year pact expired for wireline employees in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, Verizon and a union leader said Sunday morning.

Verizon's 5,400 wireline employees were on the picket line at multiple locations in New Jersey, although not near the Basking Ridge Verizon Center, , according to Bill Huber, president and business manager for the New Jersey-based IBEW Local 827.

Huber said workers could return again at some point to the Basking Ridge location, although that was not chosen on Sunday because it is a corporate center, and not a work location for the wireline employees.

"Verizon has forced us to do this," Huber said of the work stoppage, adding that the profitable company has asked for about 100 givebacks from the union employees.

In a statement released Sunday morning, Verizon said, "Verizon’s attempts to reach a constructive new contract with two unions representing the company’s wireline employees in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states were unsuccessful, and union leaders announced a decision to call a strike" by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and CWA (Communications Workers of America) unions.

In anticipation of this development, Verizon has activated a contingency to limit the disruption of service during the union's work stoppage, the statement said.

"Verizon has trained tens of thousands of management employees, retirees and others to fill the roles and responsibilities of its union-represented wireline workers," the statement said.

"As part of the company’s business continuity plan, these individuals will be reporting to their emergency work assignments, as scheduled, and will continue to provide customers with high-quality support and assistance throughout the duration of the union strike."

Verizon Wireless customers and services remain unaffected by this job action, the company's statement said. Customers with billing, service or other questions can find assistance at www.verizon.com. The company's bargaining positions are also is available online.

With the potential strike looming on Friday, Huber at that time, and again on Sunday, disputed the notion that training for management employees to fill in on the wire lines, particularly for FiOS, would be adequate.

"You can't train someone a few weeks to do the job, particularly FiOS," a fiber-optic network, Huber said on Friday. Other wired services also require more skilled labor as well, he added.

"They don't have the experience, and they don't have the manpower," Huber said on Sunday of Verizon's fill-in employees. "The customers are going to leave in droves, and they are not going to get those customers back."

"It's a major blunder for them, to get their employees on the street," Huber said after the strike was called. Previously, he said the union wants the company to remain profitable, and that the wireline employees had built the basis for Verizon's current wireless profitability.

Huber said Verizon just announced record profits at the same time the company is trying to take away union workers' health benefits and other wage-related agreements from previous contracts.

Huber said the unions and the Verizon management were in disagreement on nearly all major issues, including working conditions. He accused the company's top management, including new CEO Lowell McAdam, of trying to break the unions following almost six decades of collective bargaining.

"The issues are very clear," Huber said. "This is an attack on middle-class America."

Verizon's statement included a comment from Marc C. Reed, the company's executive vice-president of human resources.

“We are confident that we have the talent and resources in place to meet the needs and demands of our customers,” Reed said. “It’s regrettable for our employees and our customers that the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers have decided to walk away from the table instead of continuing to work through the issues.

"We will continue to do our part to reach a new contract that reflects today’s economic realities in our wireline business and addresses the needs of all parties. It’s also our intent that under a new contract, Verizon employees will continue to receive competitive pay and benefit programs,” Reed said.

Mr. A August 08, 2011 at 03:40 AM
Everyone comments on the people who go on strike in a negative light... These people are just like you and I. Why shouldnt they be able to have health benefits and a retirement package? Verizon isn't hurting, the CEO's are still getting there bonus's at the end of the year. Verizon can afford it and still make a profit. This is another way of how the wealthy/rich become more powerful and the middle class thins out...
Daniel Cartwright August 08, 2011 at 03:51 AM
i got verizon, and im a union ironworker out of work. thinking services suck, but workers who came to install were great, def ibew, not sure what local. but i will drop tommorow for my union brothers! union stand strong, all of us,
The Watcher August 08, 2011 at 04:56 AM
Want to vote yourself a pay raise with great health benefits and private gyms? Get voted into congress ! If it weren't for the unions kids would still be working in sweat shops.
cv August 08, 2011 at 10:21 AM
Let us not start another attack on people who dont make 200k a year. Maybe some demands are absurd but the more you make the LESS they take. These are just people trying to make a decent living and yes verizon is not broke. I refuse to continue attacks on blue collar workers. Congress gets all the goodies on our dime lets attack them.
cv August 08, 2011 at 10:25 AM
Please folks do not think I am protecting state workers. They needed and adjustment because we pay with taxes. Verizon is private.
Maxim Sapozhnikov August 08, 2011 at 01:08 PM
This argument is beyond ridiculous. You can afford to give up on the tax refund without going hungry, why wouldn't you? That said, Verizon workers are in *private* business; whatever issue they strike over is between them and the employer. It's the public employee unions that are a cancer is dire need of removal.
Skip August 08, 2011 at 01:10 PM
If non-union workers at Verizon have to pay into their health benefits why shouldn't the union workers have to pay the same?
EL Diablo August 08, 2011 at 03:31 PM
Verizon is reporting record profits,in the billions of dollars. on the backs of these union workers........this is nothing more than attack on the middle class period.
Maxim Sapozhnikov August 08, 2011 at 03:36 PM
Thanks for posting under your real name, Mr. Richard Trumka. :)
cv August 08, 2011 at 04:11 PM
Management non union workers at verizon pay a very small premium for insurance compared to other private sector workers. And I know because my brother in law and his eight brothers work at verizon some are union some are not. They are doing way better than other private sector with insurance affordability. But once again verizon is a billion dollar company and they are not hurting at all.
Dan Grant August 08, 2011 at 06:17 PM
The fact is that so many people don't join Unions or organize because they see some long term benefit for themselves in either promotion or compensation and Management has figured out how to use that feeling to keep wages and benefits lower. It works to the disavantage of working people most of whom will never achieve anything more than a working career. There will only ever be 10 percent in the top 10 percent. Why the 90 percent continue to believe the myth of being a part of that 10 per cent is beyond me. Unions have driven improvements in the middleclass since the beginning of the Labor movement. Don't be mad at the Labor movement be thankfull for it.
Maxim Sapozhnikov August 08, 2011 at 06:30 PM
Unions are a cancer sucking life out of this country. Who do you think pays "good union wages", the evil capitalist corporation? Economics 101 course has a surprise for you: everyone does. The businesses still have their profit as prices go up, and when they can't raise the prices they'll downsize, ship jobs out to China and India, or close the doors altogether. And then the caterwauling about businesses being "unpatriotic" starts...
MadInNJ August 08, 2011 at 07:17 PM
At any one point in time only 10% may be in management, but over a person's lifetime, the number is much higher. It's always been the "American Dream," to aspire to be and do better, and that's what's made America #1. Unions tell you to just do the bare minimum and they will protect you from "the Man," who wants to squeeze every last drop of energy out of you, and then toss you aside.
Patrick Franklin August 08, 2011 at 08:27 PM
Verizon has been raking in record profits of late. I'm sure they can ease up on some of their 100 demands of concessions. I've also noticed some more brilliant assumptions about all Union workers being lazy and doing the bare minimum. Unions built this country and helped it become #1 (no longer). For many the American dream is being in a Union and working hard in a skilled craft while receiving a fair salary and benefits in order to provide for their families.
Hank Heller August 08, 2011 at 08:53 PM
Hey, Dan, Are you a Communist or a Socialist? Keep posting. We're starting to get a more complete picture. Hank
Dan Grant August 08, 2011 at 09:11 PM
Hey Hank you said "We're starting to get a more complete picture." Who is "We"re"? Do you have a mouse in your pocket or is Max standing on your shoulders. I am not either a communist nor a socialist, I am a Protestant.
MadInNJ August 08, 2011 at 09:36 PM
I wouldn't say "record profits," unless you have some sort of inside info about what's happening this year??? http://finance.yahoo.com/q/is?s=VZ&annual P.S. You also need a remedial reading lesson - I said that the unions tell their people they can do the "bare minimum," and that they will take care of them. Never said all union workers perform the bare minimum. But thanks for echoing the CWA's propaganda.
Andrew Morgan August 08, 2011 at 09:46 PM
Folks might also want to investigate which parts of Verizon are actually profitable. Everyone keeps spouting off the "record profits" rhetoric - while the wireless segment was extremely profitable, the landline segment LOST money AGAIN this year.
Maxim Sapozhnikov August 08, 2011 at 10:03 PM
Gutter jokes, huh? Can't do better anymore? I heard wisdom usually comes with age, but in this case age clearly came alone. No wonder Montville disposed of your "leadership" along with the other trash.
Maxim Sapozhnikov August 08, 2011 at 10:05 PM
Golden rule of political debate: never bother a Democrat with facts. They interfere with their talking points.
clarke August 08, 2011 at 10:41 PM
want to see what unions do to companies? Just look at GM. The UAW sucked the life out of that company and they went bankrupt. Shareholders own Verizon, not the unions, the profits that Verizon generates belong to the company's owners, not the unions. The argument that just because Verizon is profitable they should give away more to the unions is complete BS. The Board of Verizon and management have a duty to maximize the company's profits to benefit their owners and that doesn't include the unions. Bust the unions and install replacements ASAP, with 14 million unemployed I am sure Verizon will find plenty of qualified people to take those jobs. If the unions don't like the deal they have been offered, too bad.
clarke August 08, 2011 at 10:43 PM
Verizon doesn't even own 100% of the wireless company, Vodaphone owns 40%. Without a distribution from the wireless company just recently announced, Verizon wouldn't have enough cash to pay its dividend (to shareholders).
Dan Grant August 08, 2011 at 11:11 PM
Sure Bust the Unions. Let's have more people that can't afford to buy things and grow our ecconomy. It is all about demand and without that you are kidding yourselves. BTW Shareholders are not workers and if not for the real workers the shareholders wouldn't have anything. Henry Ford understood that by paying a decent wage he could grow his customer base. He was a capitalist who understood capitalism. GM went down the tubes because of lousy designs and bean counters not because their workers didn't work. Now repeat after me. There once was a Union maid who said she wasn't afraid Of the goons and the ginks and the company finks and the deputy Sheriffs who made the raids. She would show her card to the National Guard and this is what she'd say Oh you can't scare me I'm sticking to the Union
Patrick Franklin August 08, 2011 at 11:21 PM
Clarke, GM is an entirely different story. It went bankrupt due to their cars being complete garbage under the watch of horrible leadership. Only now is the US auto industry gaining some confidence in buyers again. Verizon is demanding over 100 give backs from the Union, so I'm not sure where you getting your information from. Also training these type of workers can take upwards of a year, which would cost Verizon millions of dollars. In the end they will probably meet in the middle somewhere.
Patrick Franklin August 08, 2011 at 11:25 PM
I see Maxie is up to his or her old tricks again..... Personal attacks along with degrading remarks. Keep up the good work Maxie!! Now lets all watch and laugh as Maxie goes completely ballistic.
MadInNJ August 08, 2011 at 11:33 PM
GM had a lot of issues, including crappy cars, but #1 was the cost of labor (salaries, benefits, payments to idle workers, etc.) in each and every vehicle. And we keep hearing about "100 Givebacks." Rather than parrot the union mantra, how about enumerating them and telling us why they aren't justified. Looking at their financials, the wireline portion of the business is not doing well, contrary to union and FPD spin.
Patrick Franklin August 08, 2011 at 11:34 PM
MadInNJ, at least stick to your guns after making a statement. You said all Unions tell their people to due the bare minimum, therefore implying that all Unions have a poor work ethic. Your comment is incredibly uninformed and borderline fictional. At least do us the favor of really saying what you mean or STFU!!
MadInNJ August 08, 2011 at 11:42 PM
Sounds like a hit a nerve. And yes, by sticking up for every poor performing employee whenever an employer tries to discipline of fire their sorry butt, unions tell their people that, "you too can be a slacker and still keep your job and uniform annual increase." And they "tell" their better people, "why bother, the bum next you is getting the same raise (and benefits) that you are!" P.S. It's "Do" the bare minimum. P.P.S. By saying "borderline," you're at least acknowledging that it does happen, albeit at a lower rate than I am.
MadInNJ August 09, 2011 at 12:48 AM
Interesting selection given the following info about the song from our friends over at Wikipedia - "I'm proud to say I was present when 'Union Maid' was written in June, 1940, in the plain little office of the Oklahoma City Communist Party. Bob Wood, local organizer, had asked Woody Guthrie and me to sing there the night before for a small group of striking oil workers. Early next morning, Woody got to the typewriter and hammered out the first two verses of 'Union Maid' set to a European tune that Robert Schumann arranged for piano ('The Merry Farmer') back in the early 1800s. Of course, it's the chorus that really makes it - its tune, 'Red Wing,' was copyrighted early in the 1900s." and, "The song's final verse, on women's role in unions was written later by Lampell and other Almanac members. It implores ladies to marry a "Union Man" and be a good "Union Wife". In performance, this verse has been adapted over the years to reflect changing attitudes, or dropped altogether. An alternate version, credited to Nancy Katz, appears in the 1973 (34th) and subsequent editions of the IWW's Little Red Songbook, and starts, "A woman’s struggle is hard, even with a union card".[4]; another version in the 1985 song anthology Carry It On! edited by Seeger and Bob Reiser urges women to "Like Mother Jones, bestir them bones" After promoting a tune like that, are you sure you aren't the least bit a Commie Mr. Grant? ;)
Maxim Sapozhnikov August 09, 2011 at 02:32 AM
Patty, you dear girl. Just take the pill the doctor gave you and the laughing fits go away.

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