Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Strikers Put Jobs on Hold about 39,000 Verizon Workers Walk off in Protest of Expired Contract

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Strikers Put Jobs on Hold about 39,000 Verizon Workers Walk off in Protest of Expired Contract

Article excerpt

About 39,000 Verizon landline and cable workers in nine Eastern states, including Pennsylvania, walked off the job after little progress in negotiations since their contract expired last summer. Rallies were held in numerous cities, including Downtown Pittsburgh, where union officials estimated about 600 people gathered early Wednesday.

The employees had been working under the terms of a contract that expired Aug. 2, 2015. Management said it offered to participate in mediation if the unions extended their strike deadline, but the strike went forward.

Tom Crawford of Kilbuck, a regional vice president for the Communication Workers of America Local 13000, said he has participated in hundreds of hours of negotiating sessions since the weeks before the last four-year contract expired. Some 4,000 workers in the Pittsburgh region are impacted, said Mr. Crawford, a systems technician for Verizon who has been with the company for 29 years.

Verizon Communications Inc. has a total workforce of more than 177,000 employees.

Those participating in the strike action are employees who deal with Verizon's landline service, as opposed to its wireless service, though strikers were deployed to retail locations in an effort to be more visible to the public.

The striking workers are members of two unions: the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Together, they represent installers, customer service employees, repairmen and other service workers in Connecticut, Delaware, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., for Verizon's landline and cable business, which provides fixed-line phone services and FiOS Internet service.

Mr. Crawford said critical stalemates pertain to the company's demand that employees "pay more for less health care," job losses and pay. He contends Verizon wants to move its "desk jobs" to overseas locations.

Verizon spokesman Rich Young said the company was disappointed union leadership called a strike. He said it has trained thousands of nonunion workers to fill in for striking workers. …

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