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  (Source: boston.com)
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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RE: HealthCare
By Sazabi19 on 8/8/2011 3:03:13 PM , Rating: 5
You have to realize these are all union workers that are used to getting what they want and being waaaay overpaid for what they do. Even poor workers still get raises? After reading how much these guys are getting and their benefits, they are just spoiled and are crying when they aren't getting as much as they think they should get. Unions were good in the day to make sure workers were treated fair, now they are for getting workers lazy and protecting them from poor perfomance related terminations.


RE: HealthCare
By LBID on 8/8/2011 3:40:34 PM , Rating: 2
Wish I could give you +10 for this. Very, very true.


RE: HealthCare
By someguy123 on 8/8/2011 4:39:12 PM , Rating: 2
Unions should only exist as a means of making sure people are physically protected from any possible dangers at work. Otherwise they're just destroying the private sector with outrageous demands that I can only describe as extortion. Employees are human beings the same as executives, and if you give them that much power they will exploit it.


RE: HealthCare
By tayb on 8/8/11, Rating: 0
RE: HealthCare
By DanD85 on 8/9/11, Rating: -1
RE: HealthCare
By JediJeb on 8/9/2011 2:26:39 PM , Rating: 4
I am a chemist, I get paid 40%-60% of what these workers are getting paid depending on which numbers you believe and if I put a family on my insurance it would cost twice as much ($350 per pay check every two weeks). I have always had a limit of 6 sick days and to be honest I think I live pretty well. Unions were good when they worked to protect workers health and ensure safe working conditions, but they have gone overboard with the collective bargaining over wages and benefits. I have seen entire plants go out of business and the loss of jobs to an entire workforce simply because the union would not back down and allow the loss of 5 or 10 jobs out of 200-400. With them it is all or nothing. And even after their entire workforce is put out of work because of their no give stance, the leaders of the unions are still bringing in their six figure salaries and for what, letting the ones they were supposed to protect become unemployed?


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