Two unions representing 45,000 Verizon workers called for a strike after they failed to reach an agreement on a new contract that expired Saturday at midnight, reports Bloomberg. The Communication Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers said the country’s second-largest telephone company did not make any concessions to convince them they were negotiating in good faith. “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,” the CWA said in a statement.
The contract in question covers workers in the company’s wireline division, which includes landline services for homes and businesses as well as FiOS, according to the New York Times. Most of the workers who went on strike include customer support employees and technicians in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions, meaning it could delay service calls and installations of land lines and Internet connections. But the company insists customers will experience “limited disruption in service” because it has trained managers and retirees to “fill the roles and responsibilities of its union-represented wireline workers.”
CWA workers picketed outside Verizon headquarters in New York City Sunday morning, accusing the profitable company of making too many demands of its unionized workforce, reports the Associated Press. Verizon says it has to cut costs in its wireline business because its growth lately is largely thanks to its wireless sector. The company wants the workers to contribute to health insurance premiums, insisting that 130,000 of its 196,000 workers already does that. “We’re looking to bring our union more in line with what the rest of the workers pay,” a Verizon spokesman said last week.