Verizon workers go on strike amid contract dispute

Written by The Associated Press | Apr 13, 2016 8:06 AM

Photo by AP Photo/John Minchillo

(New York) -- Tens of thousands of Verizon landline and cable workers on the East Coast have walked off the job after working without a contract since August.

The strike this morning involves about 39,000 members of the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Pennsylvania and eight other eastern states and Washington, D.C.

The unions say they're striking because Verizon wants to freeze pensions, make layoffs easier and rely more on contract workers.

Mike Panzerino, a treasurer of CWA Local 1118, says between 300 and 400 union members walked a picket line outside the company's office in downtown Albany, where workers set up an inflatable "greedy pig'' and rat.

He says, "We're tired of fighting with the company. All we're asking for is a fair contract and they don't want to give it to us.''

The telecom giant has said there are health care issues that need to be addressed for both retirees and workers as medical costs have grown.

Spokesman Rich Young says Verizon has been trying to work with union leadership for the past few months to come up with a fair contract.

He says "unfortunately, they have been unwilling to negotiate in good faith and have now called this job action.''

Young says the unions' talk about offshoring jobs and cutting jobs is "absolute nonsense. These contracts have provisions that were put in place decades ago. They need to be modernized. They need to take a look at where the business stands in 2016.''

Verizon says it has trained thousands of non-union employees to fill in during the strike.

The last Verizon strike was in 2011 and lasted for two weeks.

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