As contracts for 45,000-unionized Verizon workers expired at midnight on Sunday, they went on strike, says both Verizon and the two unions representing the workers.
A decision to call a strike has impacted 45,000 Verizon workers from Massachusetts to Virginia.
Labor and management have each blamed the other for what has brought the company to the brink of its first strike since 2000. Verizon is claiming that the union is not agreeing to a $100 per month employee contribution to health care. Employees were not required to pay health care contributions before. The unions is saying, however, that Verizon wants to cut employee pensions and health care benefits, along with capping sick time at five days per person and instituting merit pay.
More details of the dispute can be found in a .
The two unions representing the line workers, Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), each issued statements to the media via press releases found on their websites.
“If Verizon had shown any good faith effort to negotiate honestly, our members would still be on the job,” said IBEW International President Edwin D. Hill in the press release. “Instead, they turned their backs on any attempts to reach a reasonable settlement. We cannot stand by while one of the richest, most successful corporations in the world joins the race to decimate the middle class of this country. We remain ready to meet with Verizon to work out a fair agreement, but at this point, we had no choice.”
A CWA press release stated that as the contract expired there were nearly 100 concessionary company proposals that were on the table.
“As a result, CWA and IBEW have decided to take the unprecedented step of striking until (Verizon) stops its Wisconsin-style tactics and start bargaining seriously, the CWA press release stated. “Even at the 11th hour, as contracts were set to expire, Verizon continued to seek to strip away 50 years of collective bargaining gains for middle class workers and their families.”
In a press release, Marc C. Reed, Verizon’s executive vice-president of human resources, called the strike a “regrettable” act for Verizon’s employees and customers.
“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 stated.
Reed also stated that Verizon customers and service will not be affected by the strike.