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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 kfonda on 8/8/2011 1:43:50 PM , Rating: 5
Hell, I'll volunteer to cross the picket line and be a scab for that kind of money. With unemployment as high as it is, these people have to be out of their minds to complain about this.

Between myself and my 3 siblings, 2 of us have been laid off and one has had a pay cut, furlough days and a ton more responsibilities added to her job.

These people have no idea what it's like in the real world and between unions and people who think they are entitled to get everything for nothing this country is heading the way of the roman empire.

RE: "Scabs"
By Sazabi19 on 8/8/2011 4:05:28 PM , Rating: 2
Oh they are still getting paid don't worry, they are union :)

RE: "Scabs"
By thurston2 on 8/8/2011 8:12:07 PM , Rating: 2
You deserve to have your guts cut out. It's people like you who drive down wages.

RE: "Scabs"
By kfonda on 8/9/2011 1:12:40 AM , Rating: 2
You deserve to have your guts cut out. It's people like you who drive down wages.

I was going to have my guts cut out but the 'Guts Cutters-?-Us' company went out of business because the cutters decided to unionize and they demanded so much from the owner that the company was no longer profitable.

Then I figured I'd get my health insurance to cover it as 'gastric bypass' but then I got laid off and lost my insurance.

Now I'm just waiting for the Obamacare to kick in because I'm sure gut cutting will be covered. As a matter of fact, it damn well better be covered. Free gut cutting is a Universal Right and those damned Tea Party people are trying to take away everything I'm entitled to.

wait... what were we talking about again. Doesn't matter I have to go print out some pre-made gut cutting protest signs. The bus will be here soon to take me to the protest and protesting is my only source of income these days.

(P.S. - I do actually have Chron's disease and very possibly will have to have part of my intestine removed at some point.)

RE: "Scabs"
By thurston2 on 8/9/2011 4:57:16 PM , Rating: 1
(P.S. - I do actually have Chron's disease and very possibly will have to have part of my intestine removed at some point.)

Karma's a bitch.

RE: "Scabs"
By ssjwes1980 on 8/9/2011 8:45:06 PM , Rating: 2
Man after reading this little exchange I can tell your one f&^% up individual. Plz go put yourself out of our misery...

RE: "Scabs"
By thurston2 on 8/10/2011 12:22:03 AM , Rating: 1
Why should I have any sympathy for someone who is willing to steal another person's job. He doesn't care about the person that he wants to take the job from. The guy is a piece of shit scab.

RE: "Scabs"
By kfonda on 8/10/2011 10:02:17 AM , Rating: 2
How am I stealing his job? How is he entitled to this job? If I'm willing to do the same job for less money then it is up to the company to hire who ever they want. He can go work at McDonald's.

What it comes down to is a company offers a job at a particular salary. If you don't want to do the job for that salary, don't take the job. If the salary is to low no one will take the job and the company will have to modify their offer until they reach a salary a qualified person will accept.

If the Verizon techs are not satisfied with the offer they should go find another job that will pay them what they want. That will leave Verizon to find new techs. If they can't get new techs for what they are willing to pay then they will have to offer more. This is simple supply and demand.

It's people like you that are driving all of the jobs out of this country. Most manufacturing companies simply can not afford to do business in this country when unions require unskilled laborers to be paid ridiculous salaries.

On top of all of this these a-hole Verizon union thugs are blocking access to Verizon stores and making it difficult for customers to do business with the company. If the company can't do business they have less money to pay the employees. These guys do not care about the company or its customers at all. All they care about is their paychecks. If it were my company I would fire every one of them and start over. I would not tolerate employees that would treat my customers the way they do.

RE: "Scabs"
By thurston2 on 8/10/2011 12:22:37 PM , Rating: 1
These are not manufacturing jobs and they are not unskilled labor. They are not blocking Verizon stores because that is illegal. Finally these workers are not asking for anything more they just want to keep what was agreed upon. So sit there laid off with your guts rotting out like I said karma's a bitch piece of shit scab.

Btw I am not a union member nor do I make anywhere near what they make.

RE: "Scabs"
By kfonda on 8/11/2011 2:22:48 AM , Rating: 2
I don't know about where you are, but here in central NJ the picketers are blocking the entrances the the Verizon stores. I can assure you that the police have been called several times in the last 2 days to have them removed from blocking both the store entrances and the store driveways. Then there is the video floating around the internet of the fine gentleman who put his young daughter in harms way by making here stand in front of a truck to block the 'scabs' from doing their jobs.

Also, I am OK with being called a POS scab. I am more concerned with providing for my family than being called names.

P.S. - why do you feel the need to attack me personally? I've been civil in this discussion since the beginning. you know nothing about who I am or what I do. For instance, you probably did not know that I've been a volunteer Emergency Medical Technician with a rescue squad for 30 years.

OK, I'll let you get the last word in with you next comment.

RE: "Scabs"
By thurston2 on 8/11/2011 8:55:40 PM , Rating: 2
I know you don't mind undercutting someone else to take their job, you are the one who labeled yourself a scab. I am normally a very kind and compassionate person but you and your kind disgust me. Like I said these people are not asking for more they are just trying to keep what they have and you are willing to undermine that fight just to better yourself. Do you think the executives are taking pay and benefit cuts? Why should the people who actually do the work be willing to make sacrifices if the executives will not? I know a lot of union members and they are hard working and highly skilled.

RE: "Scabs"
By thurston2 on 8/9/2011 4:59:20 PM , Rating: 2
Why don't you just get a job at McDonald's and quit crying about getting laid off.

RE: "Scabs"
By room200 on 8/9/2011 11:39:00 AM , Rating: 2
You can disagree with what someone says (and I agree with you that it's horrible that Americans are arguing for driving down middle-class wages), but there's no need for that kind of talk.

RE: "Scabs"
By JediJeb on 8/9/2011 3:09:35 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe this person isn't the problem but instead the problem lies with people who want to be paid excessive wages for their work simply because they want to live the lifestyle of those "fat cat" company executives they are always criticizing while not putting in the time and effort to advance to such a level in the company.

RE: "Scabs"
By undummy on 8/9/2011 1:20:54 AM , Rating: 2
They were hiring Scabs years ago for this strike now. Too late to get a position now.

But, 411 calls are sent to the Phillipines. You can go there and work for $1 an hour, if you're lucky.

Tech support for Fios and DSL are located in India and Mexico. So, feel free to pack up and move. Unemployment in Mexico is like 5% and their healthcare there is great.

Sales/Customer service are with generic call centers now that are making <$10 an hour. Don't worry, they won't be able to help or even know how to place an order properly.

RE: "Scabs"
By room200 on 8/9/2011 11:44:26 AM , Rating: 2
Between myself and my 3 siblings, 2 of us have been laid off and one has had a pay cut, furlough days and a ton more responsibilities added to her job.

So why do you think this has happened to you?

RE: "Scabs"
By JediJeb on 8/9/2011 3:11:42 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe because too many people have the belief they are owed a better life without having to work for it and that has drained the economy so much that everyone else is suffering for it.

RE: "Scabs"
By thurston2 on 8/10/2011 12:35:09 PM , Rating: 2
No, but you're a good little lemming for thinking so.

"A lot of people pay zero for the cellphone ... That's what it's worth." -- Apple Chief Operating Officer Timothy Cook

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