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CWA On Strike – Will Verizon fare well? August 8, 2011

Posted by TelUS Consulting Services in CLEC catagory.

Contract negotiations broke down shortly before midnight on Saturday between the telecommunications giant Verizon and two of its unions — the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

The unions represent 45,000 employees from Massachusetts to Washington, D.C. and picketing began around 6 a.m. today. The two unions have about 7,000 New Jersey members — most of whom work as field technicians and line installers.

The two sides did not negotiate today, according to the CWA, but talks are scheduled to resume Monday.

At issue is a new labor agreement. Verizon is asking for concessions, explaining its landline business is declining as customers move toward wireless communication.They feel they need to reach a contract that addresses economic realities according to a Verizon spokesman. The wireline business is constantly in decline. In order for Verizon to compete, Verizon and the unions need to make some difficult decisions.

Though wireline business may be in decline, picketers pointed out that the company as a whole is doing well, reporting billions of dollars in annual profits. It is amazing that their wireless business has been booming and still they implemented bandwidth limitations on their users in an effort to secure a larger bottom line profit.

Verizon is looking to tie pay increases to performance review and require union workers to contribute to health-plan premiums. The company is also seeking to freeze pensions at the end of the year, eliminate the sickness and death benefit program, cut in half the sickness disability benefits from 52 weeks to 26 weeks and reduce sick time, according to a spokeperson for IBEW, Local 827. The concessions equate to $1 billion if the loss of sick days and other benefits are factored in, that’s roughly $20,000 per worker.

Verizon had planned for a strike and did not expect significant disruptions in service.Verizon indicates that he company was trying to reach an amenable solution that would protect its employees while allowing Verizon to grow in a tough economy.

So how will this strike impact Verizon. From a user perspective I have felt service could not get any worse than it already was, I now may have to eat those words. Verizon already loads their employees up beyond their ability to meet objectives, then contracts work over seas in an effort to reduce costs. What they have reduces is quality of service.

Verizon will survive, and most likely will break the union, but at what cost to their user base.

Joe Buck, NCE

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