On Sunday, 45,000 union workers represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) went out on strike against the giant telecom. The strikers work in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions and handle the wireline side of Verizon’s business.[The strike does not affect Verizon Wireless, which is predominantly union-free.]
According to a press release issued by the Company, the strike is not expected to affect customer service.
Verizon has trained tens of thousands of management employees, retirees and others to fill the roles and responsibilities of its union-represented wireline workers. 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.
As part of the union effort to call attention to their strike, IBEW strikers decided to protest in front of Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam’s house on Sunday.
The last time this same unit struck Verizon was in August 2000. At the time, the issues of the unions’ strike was card-check (the unions wanted to unionize Verizon Wireless), restrictions on overtime, as well as subcontracting.
This time, however, Verizon is seeking changes to the benefits its provides to its unionized workforce, as well as greater flexibility.
According to a website set up by the Company to counter the unions allegedly false claims, Verizon spends $4 billion annually covering 800,000 employees, retirees and their families. Union workers, according to the Company site, have benefits that cost the Company up to $55,000 per technician.
During the 2000 strike, vandalism was widespread:
There were reports of at least 455 incidents (233 of which were in N.Y.) — most of which involved property damage such as severed telephone cables, burnt trucks, slashed tires — or harassment of Verizon managers. “There have also been a couple cases of building keys broken off in the locks, or Super glue in the locks,” said John Johnson, a Verizon spokesman in Boston. “One manager received a telephoned death threat.”
In one case, back in 2,000, two Verizon strikers were nearly electrocuted when they mistakenly cut through a 13,000-volt power cable that they thought was a phone line.
As of Sunday evening, there have not been any incidents of vandalism reported. Then again, it is still early in this strike.
“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776