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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: 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
http://blogs.computerworld.com/node/3834

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
quote:
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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