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.