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45,000 Verizon Workers on Strike

45,000 Verizon workers are on strike, causing service shortages from Virginia to Massachusetts.  One neighborhood in Pennsylvania was without landline phones for four days, and Verizon said they are unable to repair it due to the strike.  The company is currently renegotiating its collective bargaining agreement with two unions.  The strike seems to be an overreaction to Verizon’s proposals. 

The Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers represent the employees who work on Verizon’s landlines.  Verizon saw an 8% decreased in landline subscribers last year, and as a result has had to cut costs.  Currently the average Verizon employee makes $75,000 plus benefits.  In addition, unionized employees contribute nothing towards their health insurance premiums, while nonunionized workers make contributions. 

During negotiations Verizon proposed that employees start contributing $100 per month towards their premiums.  The union staunchly insists no contributions should be made.  The unions are also upset because the company wants to institute merit pay and limit sick time to five paid days per year.  Not surprisingly, the unions oppose any merit based system and instead insist on seniority-based raises.

The strike began on Sunday August 7th.  Since then, Verizon reported seventy incidents of sabotage, including the cutting of phone lines, harassment of managers and vandalism.  Verizon was forced to go to court to obtain an injunction to reel in out of control strikers.  

The last Verizon strike in 2000 lasted seventeen weeks.  Hopefully, the employer and union will be able to come to an agreement over the new collective bargaining agreement before further damage to people, property and customer relations occurs..  We will continue to keep you updated on the strike.  Brody and Associates regularly advises its clients on union-related matters and provides union-free training.  If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at info@brodyandassociates.com or 203.965.0560.