Verizon workers on strike

Posted at 12:27 PM, Apr 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-13 20:01:26-04

Nearly 40,000 Verizon workers went on strike against Verizon Communications 6 a.m. on Wednesday. Locally, employees who went on strike met at 65 Franklin. The grim deadline that loomed for Verizon has workers in nine eastern states off the job. 

The Communications Workers of America Union (CWA) along with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) planned the strike because workers and union leader haven't come to agree on terms of a new contract with Verizon.  

Workers have been on the job since August without a contract. John Mudie the executive vice president of CWA Local 1122 says companies like Verizon are getting rid of the middle class. 

"We have job security language in our contract which requires the company to take certain measures and steps before they can lay people off and they want to eliminate that," said Mudie. "They want to be able to lay off when they want, where they want."

President of CWA Local 1122 Jim Wagner said Verizon wants to off shore jobs, rely more on contract workers and make cuts.

"It shouldn't be this way," said Jim Wagner, President of Local 1122. "Sometimes you have to do what you have to do."

Verizon notes there are health care issues to address for retirees and workers as medical costs continue to grow. 

"Health care. Health care is very important to our members. We've taken concessions in 2011. This is a company that made $1 billion a month back in 2011," said Mudie. "Today they're making $1.5 billion a month and they want us to take more concessions."

Verizon said it's trained non-union employees to "fill-in" for workers who are on strike and that customer service won't be affected. Wagner says the strike will affect Verizon's customers. 

"If there's a service outage, there will be a longer delay. If there are new services installed, there will be a longer delay. This is not good for the customers, or the employee," Wagner said.

The last  time Verizon workers went on strike was in 2011 for two weeks. 

Here is part of a statement Verizon released Tuesday morning:

"After nearly 10 months of unsuccessfully trying to reach a contract, Verizon remains committed to its negotiation objectives and seeks to bring this process to closure.

“We’ve tried to work with union leaders to reach a deal,” said Marc Reed, Verizon’s chief administrative officer.  “Verizon has been moving the bargaining process forward, but now union leaders would rather make strike threats than constructively engage at the bargaining table.”

In the event of a strike, the company is fully prepared to serve its customers.

“We do not take strike threats lightly,” said Bob Mudge, president of Verizon’s wireline network operations.  “For more than a year, we’ve been preparing in the event union leaders order our employees to walk off the job.  If a strike takes place, whether it’s one day, two weeks or longer, we are ready.'"

At this point, there is no timetable as to how long the strike could last but union leaders say they're willing to remain off the job as long as it takes to reach an agreement.