living in an increasingly wireless world, where smartphones, tablets, laptops
and many other gadgets can be seen around every corner. With so many wireless
device options, more and more people are getting rid of their landline phones,
and Verizon has certainly recognized these losses.
Due to this evolution in the way we communicate, Verizon has seen a decline in
its wireline business (landlines and FiOS services) over the past decade, and
is now looking to keep costs "in check." Some of these changes include
cutting pensions, changing work rules and making employees pay more for
Two unions -- the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood
of Electrical Workers -- which represent 45,000 Verizon employees, entered into
contract negotiations with Verizon in late June. The unions are challenging
Verizon's proposal that employees pay $1,300 to $3,000 for family healthcare
coverage, as well as the freezing of pensions for current employees, the
elimination of pensions for future employees, and the limitation of five sick
days per year when there was no previous limit. In addition, Verizon wants to
make it easier to lay off employees without buying them out and give raises
based solely on job performance, allowing the company to deny annual raises to
employees that don't measure up.
Verizon responded by saying its unionized employees are "well paid,"
with many field technicians making $100,000 a year including overtime as well as
$50,000 in benefits. The unions said field technicians make $60,000 to $77,000
a year without overtime and that benefits do not reach $50,000 a year.
Both sides could not reach an agreement, and at 12:20 a.m. on Sunday, August 7,
the 45,000 union workers at Verizon's U.S. Northeast wireline unit went on strike.
"Since bargaining began on June 22, Verizon has refused to move from a
long list of concession demands," said the unions in a statement.
"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."
Verizon released a statement early Sunday morning, saying that it was
unsuccessful in reaching an agreement with the unions, and that it activated a
contingency plan to make sure landline customers were
not affected during this time.
"It's regrettable for our employees and our customers [that the unions]
have decided to walk away from the table instead of continuing to work through
the issues," said Mark C. Reed, Verizon's executive vice president of
Despite Verizon's statement, Candice Johnson, a spokeswoman for the workers on
strike, said that the talks had continued at 12:30 a.m.
Verizon is currently filling the positions of these workers with tens of
thousands of management retirees and employees, and it feels confident
that its wireline services will
continue without any problems.
Verizon Communications shares fell 3 percent in premarket trading on Monday
after the strike had began.