NEW YORK, (UPI) — A strike deadline of Wednesday was announced by two unions representing about 40,000 Verizon employees seeking improved pensions and an end to outsourcing of jobs.
The workers, largely in landline and Internet services on the East Coast, have been without a contract since August 2015. They are represented by the Communication Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. A strike will begin Wednesday at 6 a.m., according to a CWA statement released Monday.
Verizon has said it wants changes in “legacy contracts” in its landline phone business, which has become a smaller segment of its services. Its landline operations fell from 37 percent of the company’s revenue in 2011 to 29 percent in 2015, and the unions, which have not made much impact in the company’s wireless divisions, now represent half the number of Verizon workers they did in 2000.
Verizon, which has about 178,000 employees, has trained nonunion employees to cover jobs in the event of a strike. A 2011 strike by the unions was resolved in two weeks with a new contract.
A remaining conflict in negotiations involves Verizon’s interest in eliminating a rule preventing employees from working away from home for extended periods; it seeks the option to relocate employees for up to two months, arguing it serves customers in areas of increased demand. It also wants to consolidate seven call centers; each, it says, with six or fewer employees.
A CWA statement noted Verizon made $39 billion in profits in the past three years, and $1.8 billion per month this year, and wants to reduce job security protections, move some jobs to foreign countries and subcontract some positions to other companies.
“More and more, Americans are outraged by what some of the nation’s wealthiest corporations have done to working people over the last 30 years, and Verizon is becoming the poster child for everything that people in this country are angry about. This very profitable company wants to push people down,” Edward Mooney, CWA District 2-13 vice president said in the statement.