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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: "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.

"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein

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