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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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sell your soul for a paycheck
By undummy on 8/9/2011 1:11:46 AM , Rating: 3
The technicians, indoor and outdoor, work every imaginable shift and forced to work too much overtime. Getting sick or injured is part of the job, and the company wants to yank healthcare benefits. Holidays/nights/weekends also are required. Cancelled vacations is common.

You definitely can raise a family on Verizon's payroll, but you'll never see them.

So, before any off you complain, go work for them 1st.

Try spending 12hrs on a pole during a heatwave, blizzard, or hurricane, just so that some spoiled brat kids can surf the web or talk on the phone. We'll see how long you last. How many times in a week do you ask your spouse to bring you a change of clothes 'caused you're soaked to the skin?

Spouses tend to be "telecom widows".

I'm surprised that Verizon hasn't posted the new hire quitting rate, which has been through the roof in the past 10 years. Those outdoor techs are hardcore.

My neighbor has been shot at while up on a pole, because he was disconnecting some non-payers in the ghetto.

I did a 5 year sentence as a tech and as management for Verizon. The day that I quit was like being born again. In my class of 20, I was the longest lasting greenie. 19 didn't make it the 1st year.

I'm a company man all the way. And, I don't care for the union. But, those guys sold their soul for this company.

Verizon's quality is ruined by excess contractors, and low paid non-union poorly skilled/trained disposable wanna-be's. I know 'cause I hired several(massive contractor hiring in the past few years preparing for this strike). Every time you call or have a service issue, I can almost guarantee that a contractor was involved, and the repair was a well trained union tech, who understands how 5 generations of technology mix together. Its a cluster-uck at Verizon CO's, hubs, poles...

If the Union is broken, I will be quick to sell my stock. They'll become another joke, akin to TimeWarner or Comcast, with a future of nothing but non-stop outages and quality issues.

The last strike lasted 18 days before the management and contractors couldn't keep it all together. We'll see how long this one goes for.

RE: sell your soul for a paycheck
By Dr of crap on 8/9/2011 2:35:56 PM , Rating: 2
But they didn't have to work there, did they?

Find somewhere else to work.

I'm searching right now, but will NOT apply at any place I know has unions!

Like I'm going to strike, and not work, and not get a check because of a few dollars pay dispute or maybe some healthcare changes. Here's a clue it happens to everyone. And Yes I've had 3 out of the last 5 years with healthcare changes and it's all part of working for a company.

If you don't like it where you're at, look for something better!

RE: sell your soul for a paycheck
By undummy on 8/9/2011 6:34:45 PM , Rating: 2

I did.

But, those that didn't, have the right to strike. Your comments are useless toward the anti-union debate.

So, you'll purposely stay unemployed vs taking a union job? You aspirations are pretty pathetic. Does that mean that you'd rather sit on welfare, unemployment, food stamps, subsidized housing... over a union job? That's the problem with this country.

This isn't just about healthcare and a few dollars pay. This is about maintaining the equipment, shifts, employee count, safety... etc. How many 80hr weeks have you worked consecutively because of normal employee shrinkage/attrition and the retirees weren't being replaced?

My record is 9 months WITHOUT A DAY OFF. Even though I'm required to have days off, if I did, I'd get a poor review.

If you want that job, TAKE IT. Its not worth $100 an hr for what they want to make the employee do.

9 out of 10 people are NOT smart enough to work there. So, anyone saying its a low-skilled job is a fool. Stick with your burger flipping.

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