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Unions are challenging Verizon's recent decisions to cut pensions, change work rules and make employees pay more for healthcare

We are 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 healthcare.

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 human resources.

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.

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By Roy2001 on 8/8/2011 1:42:41 PM , Rating: 2
" field technicians make $60,000 to $77,000 ". Seriously, why a technician can make around $70k? why they are still not happy with it?

Let Verizon BK, just like GM, to get rid off unions.

RE: Seriou$**
By cjohnson2136 on 8/8/2011 1:55:57 PM , Rating: 2
And its not like its a field tech with 5-10 years experience. It is someone with a 2 year degree OR 2 years experience. I am finishing my 4 year degree this December and the job at now is just shy of 50k. I would love to be making 10k more.

RE: Seriou$**
By Sazabi19 on 8/8/2011 3:06:50 PM , Rating: 2
I've been a computer tech for 3 years now (no degree just experience) and I wish I made your money... The ONLY good part is that I don't have a family to take care of.

RE: Seriou$**
By cjohnson2136 on 8/8/2011 3:42:00 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah I am glad it's just me and my wife.

RE: Seriou$**
By cjohnson2136 on 8/8/2011 3:43:41 PM , Rating: 2
And look you have the experience go cross the picket line and take a job from them lol

RE: Seriou$**
By dean.smits on 8/8/2011 5:05:10 PM , Rating: 1
Oh, but it is. I just talked to one of these linemen. He has been doing this for over 10 years, makes ~$57,000 a year, which ain't bad. I don't know how much he pays for insurance, but you know it ain't free. They want to reduce his salary to what it was 5 years ago. He has wife and kids, can't do that!

And if you think his job is easy, its not. He's climbing those tall poles and working among strong electrical current. Its a highly dangerous job that takes a lot of training and a dedicated worker.

Meanwhile, the CEO earns 2.1 million in 2009, 3 million performance bonus, $11 million in stock & options, and $880,000 in compensations (like money to cover taxes associated with travel and life insurance, money to use the company jet, etc.)

And the unions didn't just walk away from the table. They were practically pushed away. This is coming from the horses mouth.

RE: Seriou$**
By VahnTitrio on 8/9/2011 10:26:25 AM , Rating: 2
Agreed, I don't make that much with a 4 year degree. And currently. Unlimited sick days is just sickening. I know health varies from person to person but I've only taken 5 sick days total since June of 2005.

RE: Seriou$**
By tamalero on 8/8/2011 3:24:29 PM , Rating: 1
Its amazing the entitlement of some people here, always blaming Unions and claiming other's salaries are way too high.
Its a severe case of envy and how the epic brainwashing of newsmedia outtlets make middle class fight middle class, instead of protecting themselves from the battering of the richest bastards.

RE: Seriou$**
By weskurtz0081 on 8/8/2011 3:58:14 PM , Rating: 2
I think it really just boils down to people being tired of unions in general, and they deserve most of the heat they get. The whole fiasco with Boeing trying to build a plant in SC is a prime example.

RE: Seriou$**
By Sazabi19 on 8/8/2011 4:03:40 PM , Rating: 3
LOL, "the battering of the richest bastards."? Really? Most (note, I said most) rich people have done something in their lives to get where they are today, even if they are the child of a rich person (or any other family member) and they pay out their asses in taxes for what they have, a much higher percentage than you do. It's not so much "envy" or even "fair" as it is to hear someone being overpaid pissing and moaning about what they have that a lot of others would be more than happy with. You sound very confused and angry yourself.

RE: Seriou$**
By gixser on 8/8/2011 5:24:03 PM , Rating: 1
Yes, many children of the rich do indeed "do something to get where they are today". Like attend the best schools, see the best Dr's, have the nutrition they need, the shelter, the support and other resources to "do something". e.g. They aren't burdened with crippling student loans. Most of all, they never, for a moment, doubt their ability to achieve. Of course, its still a competitive environment but at least they make it to the start line with every tool at their disposal. The great myth in America is that it is an even playing field. If you think it is an even playing field then you are (a) deluded or (b) playing with a homefield advantage.

Having said that...I have busted my ass to make some money and I would be pissed if my progeny didn't benefit from my work after my death.

I think the following is apropo.

Effective Tax Rate of Richest 400 Americans:

Some graphs re wealth inequality that may or may not be accurate:

Warren Buffet on Taxes and the Inheritance Tax (From Wikipedia)


Buffett stated that he only paid 19% of his income for 2006 ($48.1 million) in total federal taxes (due to their being from dividends & capital gains), while his employees paid 33% of theirs, despite making much less money.[130] “How can this be fair?” Buffet asked, regarding how little he pays in taxes compared to his employees. “How can this be right?” He also added:
“There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”[131][132]

Buffett favors the inheritance tax, saying that repealing it would be like "choosing the 2020 Olympic team by picking the eldest sons of the gold-medal winners in the 2000 Olympics".[133] In 2007, Buffett testified before the Senate and urged them to preserve the estate tax so as to avoid a plutocracy.[134]

Some critics have argued that Buffett (through Berkshire Hathaway) has a personal interest in the continuation of the estate tax, since Berkshire Hathaway has benefited from the estate tax in past business dealings and had developed and marketed insurance policies to protect policy holders against future estate tax payments.[135]

RE: Seriou$**
By Nfarce on 8/8/2011 6:53:38 PM , Rating: 1
Buffet is well known for loving to pay more taxes. Let him do it! The top 10% of income earners paid 70% of all income taxes last year. The bottom 50% paid 0% after tax incentives and refunds like the EIC.

Finally, anyone who believes in the Marxist inheritance tax is definitely someone who doesn't believe in the freedoms America has to offer. If you don't think you are paying enough taxes, then by all means, pay more. Or donate the rest of your money. I see Warren Buffet still has plenty of his.

RE: Seriou$**
By KITH on 8/9/2011 3:55:02 PM , Rating: 2
Who ever said it was an even playing field? I think the idea is that everyone gets to play.

RE: Seriou$**
By Nfarce on 8/8/2011 6:49:50 PM , Rating: 1
Most (note, I said most) rich people have done something in their lives to get where they are today, even if they are the child of a rich person

Exactly! It's just more class warfare propagated by those who do not understand who the job creators and investors are and who the moochers are.

For example, I have an uncle that never went to college. He learned a trade from his father, my grandfather. He went out at 25 and started his own company after years of hard labor and job experience. Some 25 years later he and his son - armed with an MBA - sold the company for millions. That company now employees thousands around the nation and is traded publicly on the NYSE.

But people like my uncle are the EXACT target that class-warfare demented groups believe "stole" from someone else. It's really disgusting actually, and I'd be curious to know where this mindless mentality originates. My guess is government public run education.

RE: Seriou$**
By room200 on 8/9/2011 9:23:59 AM , Rating: 3
It's really interesting how the wealthy have gotten regular people to argue for the destruction of the middle class and the outsourcing of American jobs. You can't even bring yourself to use the terms rich or wealthy. Instead, you use bogus terms like "job creators". It's the middle class who creates the jobs through demand. If you have no demand, you have no jobs.

We keep hearing this lie that if you give the rich more they simply create more jobs. Right now, companies are the most profitable than they have ever been, and yet the unemployment rate is at its worst. Further, we keep hearing the lie that if you just keep cutting taxes, more jobs will be created. Corporations pay the lowest tax rates than they've ever paid. In the early 60's, they paid more than 40%, nows they pay on avderage around 21%. Yet, the middle class continues to shrink. This whole FAA thing is a case study. The federal government stopped collecting the 10% tax on airline tickets, so it would make sense that the price of the ticket would drop by 10%; it did not. Instead, the airlines (except 2 of them), jacked up the price by 10%, and pocketed it. Furthermore, there's no indication they will reduce the price of the ticket now that the FAA is again collecting that 10%.

In this day, your uncle would likely not have been able to start a business and grow it. Don't act like he started that business with no help. He, more than likely, got loans to start that business.

RE: Seriou$**
By room200 on 8/8/2011 7:00:55 PM , Rating: 3
Are you going to do the work many of them do? I certainly would never work around highly-powered electrical lines, or risk my lif scaling poles/buildings.

RE: Seriou$**
By undummy on 8/9/2011 1:28:58 AM , Rating: 3

Getting electrocuted or killed working for Verizon is nothing new. Just like the National Grid and electric co employees, high rates of cancers is expected.

Like UPS workers, knee/back/shoulder repairs are common. Lets see home many times anyone can climb a ladder, crawl in an attic or crawlspace.... before some body part needs orthopedic repair.

RE: Seriou$**
By JediJeb on 8/9/2011 2:57:50 PM , Rating: 2
Are you going to do the work many of them do? I certainly would never work around highly-powered electrical lines, or risk my lif scaling poles/buildings.

That is called personal choice. There are many who would do that job and probably for even less money, but most unions lock up those jobs and if someone comes along willing to do it for less they are not allowed to. Who knows if the unions were not there, maybe Verizon could pay 20% less in wages and hire 10% more workers so that everyone could work less hours and have more free time. There have been many times I would have liked to not have to work 12 hours a day for 6 or 7 days a week, even to the point of giving up a raise for a couple years just to let the company hire more workers. I would have much preferred having the time off than the overtime money so that would have been like taking a pay cut just to have more people to share the work.

Unions controlling the workplace is much like having a car dealership that wants to make 100% profit on a certain model and forcing all other dealerships to charge the same high price even though some would be happy to sell that car to you for only a 50% markup or 10% markup, but because the dealership charging 100% markup is given control from the government they are allowed to set the price for everyone.

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