Forty-five thousand Verizon Communications Inc workers from Massachusetts to Washington DC, went on strike yesterday after negotiations fizzled over a new labour contract for more than a fifth of the company's work force.
Verizon is the nation's largest wireless carrier, but the contract that expired at midnight on Saturday covers workers in the company's wireline division, which includes local-phone operations, services for businesses and governments and long-haul wholesale traffic.
Talks in Philadelphia and New York stalled on Saturday night after Verizon continued to demand more than 100 concessions from workers regarding health care, pensions and work rules, said the Communications Workers of America.
Mark Reed, Verizon's executive vice-president of human resources, called the outcome of the unions' actions "regrettable" for customers and employees.
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Doing our part
"We will continue to do our part to reach a new contract that reflects today's economic realities in our wireline business and addresses the needs of all parties," he said in a statement.
Workers covered by the expired contract include 10,000 represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, who serve as telephone and repair technicians, customer service representatives, operators and more. Negotiations began on June 22.
"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," CWA said in a statement yesterday.
New York-based Verizon has 196,000 workers — 135,000 are non-union.