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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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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.

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