Tensions Rise in Day 2 of Verizon Strike
Shares of Verizon Communications were down 2.1 percent in early trading yesterday as the Company’s 45,000 workers continue to strike. The workers are part of Verizon’s U.S. Northeast wireline unit, which provides land line phone services as well as high speed Internet and FIOS television services.
The workers resumed talks Monday after they called a strike on Sunday after talks for a new labor contract failed. In an article yesterday, Reuters reported that the strike took a hostile turn.
Verizon said in a statement that some picketing workers were unlawfully blocking Verizon managers’ access to work centers. However, a Communications Workers of America spokesman said he was not aware of any unlawful activity by strikers and said the union doesn’t condone such behavior.
The CWA has reported that some picketing workers were injured by Verizon managers’ cars and that one worker was knocked unconscious when he was clipped by the mirror of a manager’s car that was speeding past a picket line.
Verizon said it was working with the police to investigate what happened, but noted that it believed the allegations are “totally inaccurate.”
As well, the CWA confirmed that a security guard hired by Verizon had punched a worker and knocked him to the ground on Monday morning. The Company did not have an immediate comment on this accusation.
The Company has said it is working with authorities to investigate at least 12 incidents of sabotage, including deliberate cutting of fiber optic lines in 10 places and a case of stolen equipment that caused an outage.
Meanwhile, the CWA said in a statement that “Verizon workers are waiting for management to demonstrate that it’s ready to bargain. In fact, we’re looking for Verizon to stop canceling bargaining sessions that have been scheduled.
Schedules were cancelled for Saturday and Sunday sessions. Workers were waiting Monday, to see what, if anything comes from the session scheduled for later that morning.
Verizon employees have been waiting since June 22 for management to bargain at all. Even at contract expiration, Verizon continued to demand $1 billion in concessions per year. That’s $20,000 for every worker. That demand is coming from a $100 billion company, where the top five executives got compensation of $258 million over the past four years.
The CWA stated “Verizon’s concession demands would strip away the middle class standard of living that workers have gained through bargaining over the past 50 years. Verizon is following the Wisconsin playbook and it’s wrong.”
Verizon said customers were experiencing minimal impact as managers covered for the striking workers.
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