Accusations Increase in Verizon Strike

Company reports damage to operations in four states

Verizon employees took to the picket lines for a second day on Monday at Verizon, FIOS and Verizon Wireless facilities. The union claims management was inflexible with the demands it brought to the bargaining table and is looking only to make larger profits at their expense. Verizon reported sabotage to operations in New York, including Pomona and three other states.

45,000 unionized members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) in the northeast went on on Sunday at 12:01 a.m. after their contract expired. Verizon has asked the workers to contribute to their health benefits insurance. The union stated Verizon is asking for up to 100 givebacks.

“We are in a struggle for our bargaining rights,” said Eric Goodwin, CWA Local 1107 vice president. “This is about a profitable company wanting to become more profitable on the backs of the middle class workers.”

According to information released by Verizon on Monday, “The criminal incidents of sabotage have affected phone, Internet and TV service in Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York.”

The damage includes 10 incidents of fiber-optic lines being deliberately cut in Pomona, the Bronx, Farmingdale and Guilderland in NY, two separate incidents in Massachusetts, Maryland and New Jersey.

An outage resulted from stolen electronic equipment in NJ and a central office heating system was tampered with in Manhattan. The company is offering a reward of up to $50,000 and asks anyone who witnesses damage to their property to call the police and then contact their security control center.

Union members said the company will not be able to respond to customers’ complaints or service needs because the management personnel filling in does not have the training.

In Rockland, Verizon has two FIOS garages in Nanuet and Pomona that employ 300 workers who are represented by CWA Local 1107 of New City.

“We’re the builders,” said Greg Fein, a field technician on the picket line in Nanuet. “We build the infrastructure. The managers do not have the capability to do the job.”

Verizon activated a contingency plan and said it trained tens of thousands of management employees, retirees and others to replace the union workers. Fein said the management employees do not know the job because they have not worked their way up through the ranks.

Joe Krische, shop steward for the Pomona garage, predicted if a customer has problems with landline service, they will not be able to have it fixed.

“Our contingency plan is in full effect, and our management employees are stepping in to cover our workload,” said Bob Mudge, Verizon president of consumer and mass markets. “We are committed to delivering excellent customer service, and that’s exactly what we plan to do.”

Local 1107 Secretary/Treasurer Bob Milone predicted construction projects would also be impacted. He noted the county’s reconstruction of New Hempstead Road in New City has reached the point where new utility lines were being installed and said that work has just about ground to a halt.

Goodwin said picket lines will be manned for longer hours starting Tuesday or Wednesday. He expects striking workers to be out from 7 a.m.to 7 p.m. instead of from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“If we have to, we’ll stay all night,” Goodwin said. He predicted a large turnout of strikers at the Verizon Wireless Store in Nanuet on Tuesday morning.



RJ August 09, 2011 at 11:41 AM
I see all the comments from yesterday have been removed. I guess it became a pretty heated debate. Then again it always is when a union worker is asked to pay a little towards health benefits. The company I work for is raising my portion of healthcare contribution 10% in 2012. It has gone up every year for the past 30 years to about $400 month but is still a fraction of the portion the company pays for me. I'm thankful I have a job and my heathcare benefits even with my $400 co-pay. This is the sign of the times. It's not 1950 anymore. A loaf of bread used to cost 25 cents but I don't see the public picketing the WonderBread plant crying over the $2.50 price tag. Oh and vandalism? Really? What a bunch of spoiled children. It's time to put on your big boy undies guys & get back to work otherwise me and all the other taxpayers out there will be paying for your unemployment.
RJ August 09, 2011 at 12:09 PM
Couldn't resist expanding on the vandalism. Why drag the consumers into your fight? We are the ones who buy Verizon services so therefore are the ones that provide you with a job so what sense does it make to attack us? We are the ones that will suffer from your unlawful acts of vandalism. Many of us will lose money and time when you cut our lines. Vandalism will make the people stand against you not with you.
Debbie August 09, 2011 at 12:32 PM
Don't blame a few bad employees for vandalism and there is no proof verizon employees did it. Verizon employees have dedicated years of employment at Verizon to make sure customers have service and they have dangerous jobs. My husband gets called at anytime in the middle of the night if there is any damage. When there is a bad storm and lines are down where people can get hurt, my husband and coworkers risk their lives to make sure you are safe and restore your service. I don't think many people understand the danger of wire lines on the poles that are active and our husband and wives could lose their lives. They should be able to get all the benefits that they had since its one of the reasons they do this kind of work. Also, please think of the famlies that worry everyday that their loved ones will come home safely everyday.
Kg August 09, 2011 at 12:35 PM
Any union member that does anything to disrupt the customers service hopefully will be caught!! The consumer keeps us employed you dopes.!!! Our fight is with corporate greed not the people who pay our salaries. Verizon management does not have the training to fix a regular trouble that comes in. We do not need to vandalize the plant it breaks all on it's own without our help. The unions are not asking for more. We only wish to keep what we have worked for. If people would think about it Verizon is saying it's because of line loss that they need all these consesions from its unions. In reality there were 86,000 of us in the last strike there are now 45,000. According to Verizon it's the loss of lines that makes these concessions needed. I'm not a rocket scientist but 1/2 the lines lost 1/2 the employees as before where is the cost increase to the company?
Kg August 09, 2011 at 12:44 PM
One other point I need to make. At one time there were 36 employed at my location now we are down to 15 and we handle almost as many repair calls as before. We do have line loss but the crew is more experienced now than when we were all hired 15 years ago. Productivity has increased with experience. We are doing more with less. No one was fired they all retired or bid to new locations. I haven't seen it mentioned anywhere that the workforce has shrunk at the same rate or faster than the line loss
Kg August 09, 2011 at 12:56 PM
If union members did vandalize the plant they should be punished. For all anyone knows though it could have been the untrained managers trying to fix something that they don't understand that caused the outages.
C August 09, 2011 at 01:49 PM
Verizon should do away with the Union completely. Fire all 45,000 and hire them back as employees. Anyone caught vandalizing company property should be terminated.
c August 09, 2011 at 02:57 PM
Contributing to benefits is not a huge deal at surface but when it can be 6k for a family of 4 it is a big deal when your pay is not increased. No company should be able to take away things they offered you to come work there. If you are a new hire then the offerings can be different but no one wants to work for years for a business and have your "benefits" stripped away. This not just health benefits.
C August 09, 2011 at 03:08 PM
Verizon is not asking the Union members to pay for 100% of their benefits, just a percentage. The same thing just about every company in the world is doing now. Unions haven't had a pay increase??? Come on be realistic.
c August 09, 2011 at 04:27 PM
The figure 6k is inclusive of the 1k deductible you will have to pay per person in a family of 4 + contribution being realistic it is a lot of money to lose if you can not make up that money. That is based on current mngmnt plans and as a manger your salary increases + bonus'
Ken McQuade August 09, 2011 at 04:59 PM
The CWA has become a victim of their previous success. Nynex made 1st and 2nd level managers contribute to medical as far back as 1989. Then they froze the pension in 2004 for managers. Managers have always had their raises based on merit some fair some not. Now the company in order to compete with Cablevision has to lower the standards of their union work force. They can’t take anything more from managers they are all ready working 14-16 hour work days. So now they are coming after the Union. If the company wins even half of the concessions they are looking for I doubt the union will survive. Too many people out there would give anything to have a shot at a Phone company job. The problem is Ma Bell is dead may she rest in peace.
jerry August 09, 2011 at 05:55 PM
How come I cannot enjoy a profit in my bank account and pay no taxes like verizon does along with the elite that control this failing PUBLIC SERVICE COMPANY, the ..answer is GREED ! Abolish the Public Service Commission , save tax dollars, their in bed with verizon, LOOK at the mess in the streets ,phone company falcilities are falling apart and verizon is ok with this because it saves money to leave it . AMERICA IS COMING APART, CORPORATE AMERICA IS ONLY MAKING IT WORSE<JUST LOOK @ VERIZON, they been hoping for a strike because it lets them off the hook for all contractual agreements they made with all local governments and subscribers. THE MIDDLE CLASS MUST NOT BE DESTROYED OR THE UNITED STATES WILL FAIL. LONG LIVE ALL UNIONS OF THE UNITED STATES may they keep the worker safe! DONT BE A NUS !
MA August 09, 2011 at 07:19 PM
Why should employees pay into their benefits or have wages benefits reduced when the corporation is beyond profitable (the CEO's make millions per year in salary, benefits and perks) AND doesn't pay taxes? Can we, the working middle-class do the same? If loopholes and subsidies (Big Oil) for the very rich and corporations were eliminated we wouldn't be having a debt crisis. Time for political contributions to be severely capped for individuals and corporations so elected officials can't be lured into bed with the high end contributors. The money spent in this manner & for lobbying is disgraceful. Yet, some here seem to hold the Verizon employees more accountable.
RJ August 10, 2011 at 11:21 AM
Why shouldn't CEO's make more money? Should we live in a society where everyone earns the same amount of money from the street sweeper to the brain surgeon?
MA August 10, 2011 at 03:16 PM
Interesting that the only piece you extracted was about the difference in pay. That certainly is not the issue here. It's that they reap the benefits of the company/corporate profits while they expect the same or more level of work production from the employees, ALL while the corporation/company does NOT pay taxes. If that doesn't bother all of us then there is something fundamentally wrong with the new version of the American dream! Also if you research salaries, you'll see that street sweepers are not that far apart from brain surgeons. My nephew is a neurologist and while earns a healthy salary, it is nowhere near what you may think, nor is it even close to what corporate executives walk away with!
DLS August 11, 2011 at 05:45 PM
corporations are greedy period...while they have been making many employees pay into health plans, reduce wages, etc., for years, that does not mean that should be the way ALL compensation plans should work. In many companies, only the elite managers get the top salaries and bonuses, while the rest of the employees are regularly taken advantage of. Unions should be able to fight for employees' rights, and let them battle it out. I have seen my benefits (which were a part of my salary package) slip away handsomely over the years, and nobody has been there to protect me (as I am not union). As to vandalism, until someone is caught, don't get wrapped up in what everyone wants you to think is one side or another being responsible. That takes away from the real issue at hand - the negotiations.
Kaye August 12, 2011 at 07:18 PM
I worked with "NYNEX" in the 1980's and would stake my life on the fact that the vandalism was caused by disgruntled Union workers. Interesting about the high incidents of vandalism during strike times vs. non-strike times, isn't it? Many of the Union workers are bullies and use bully tactics during strikes.
MA August 12, 2011 at 09:38 PM
How about the vandalism is caused by morons? Union workers, especially those on strike do not support peers who behave poorly and make us look bad. The incidence of vandalism is nominal, you hear about one or two and somehow that's all you remember. Not sure where you worked in the '80's that you think we're bullies. I worked for Verizon and didn't find them to be different from other people. Bullies are bullies, you can find them anywhere. So much for objectivity!
Charity L Jeck August 17, 2011 at 03:46 AM
and all this close to election year wonder what will happen now
C. Gotlieb August 17, 2011 at 07:59 PM
MA August 18, 2011 at 03:15 AM
Thought that I'd post a link for anyone who may be interested in an unbiased article explaining not only the strike but how it impacts the American economy: http://news.yahoo.com/striking-verizon-workers-example-us-164242234.html


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