It’s been less than 24 hours since the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) called 45,000 of their respective members out on strike against Verizon and, already, there are reports of sabotage of Verizon equipment, as well as illegal picketing.
Ten incidents of fiber-optic lines being deliberately cut in the Bronx, Pomona, Farmingdale and Guilderland in New York; two separate incidents in Tewksbury in Massachusetts; incidents in Bel Air in Maryland, and East Dover, Oakland and Plainfield in New Jersey.
An outage due to stolen electronic equipment in Cedar Grove, N.J., affecting a local police department, among other customers.
An incident due to tampering with a heating system at a central office in Manhattan.
According to Verizon Chief Security Officer Mike Mason.
“In addition to inconveniencing our customers, these deliberate disruptions of our network have affected hospitals, paramedics, fire fighters, law enforcement and other first responders. Verizon is working closely with local authorities to investigate these sabotage incidents, and identify and prosecute those responsible to the fullest extent of the law. And we will not hesitate to terminate any employee who may be involved in these acts.
“In addition, there have been circumstances where union picketers are showing contempt for our customers by illegally preventing us from accessing the tools we need to serve them,” said Mason. “We are taking legal action to end this unlawful activity.”
Verizon is offering a $50,000 reward for “information leading to the arrest and prosecution of individuals that intentionally damage Verizon cables or facilities or cause or attempt to cause physical injury to any Verizon employee or contractor.”
Verizon urges anyone who witnesses sabotage of Verizon property or any suspicious activity to call 911 immediately, then call the Verizon Security Control Center at 1-800-997-3287.
The incidents of sabotage follow a weekend of protesters and inflatable rats descending on the homes of Verizon executives.
On Sunday, CWA and IBEW bosses called their members out on strike, following a break down in negotiations over health care costs. The union members work in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states including Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.
The last strike involving this unit was in 2000 and involved some 85,000 Verizon workers. Since that time, the unions have lost some 40,000 members as more and more customers turn toward Verizon’s wireless service, which is non-union.