Verizon workers walked the picket line in Nanuet for the second day vowing to stay off the job as long as necessary. In Rockland County, there are about 300 employees based at Verizon FIOS garages in Nanuet and Pomona. Workers walked off the job at 12:01 a.m. Sunday in a dispute with management over contract concessions.
In Nanuet, dozens of striking workers carrying signs converged on the three driveway entrances to the garage where FIOS trucks sat idle. Strikers also picketed in front of the Wireless Store on Route 59 in Nanuet. They said they just want to be treated fairly.
“We’re company men,” said Gregory Fein, a field technician. “We love Verizon. I’m a stockholder. Everyone on the line is a stockholder.”
Shop Steward Joe Krische of West Nyack said, “We don’t want the whole pie. We just want our piece.
Verizon spokesman John Bonamo said that the wireless division has nothing to do with the strike.
"That adds an added matter of inconvenience for our customers when people on this side of the business go to (picket) the Verizon Wireless stores," Bonamo said. "One has nothing to do with the other."
Workers claimed Verizon’s successful wireline business provided the funding for the wireless division to grow.
“Now that the FIOS network is built, they want to take our benefits away,” said Bob Milone, CWA 1107 secretary/treasurer.
Through a press release sent out Monday, Verizon is also claiming that customers have only seen minimal disruptions in service despite "At least 12 acts of sabotage in its communication facilities in four states." They are claiming that fiber-optic lines have been cut in 10 separate incidents. Verizon has also accused the striking workers of illegally blocking management from entering work centers and garages.
"These acts of sabotage are reprehensible," said Verizon Chief Security Officer Mike Mason. "In addition to inconveniencing our customers, these deliberate disruptions of our network have affected hospitals, paramedics, fire fighters, law enforcement and other first responders. Verizon is working closely with local authorities to investigate these sabotage incidents, and identify and prosecute those responsible to the fullest extent of the law. And we will not hesitate to terminate any employees who may be involved in these acts."
"Our contingency plan is in full effect, and our management employees are stepping in to cover our workload," said Bob Mudge, Verizon's president of consumer and mass markets. "We are committed to delivering excellent customer service, and that's exactly what we plan to do."
The release acknowledges that customers may have to wait longer for repair work and when calling Verizon for sales or customer service.
Bargaining between Verizon and its employees began in late June. Local Vice President Eric Goodwin said he has been told management is seeking 100 givebacks that would erase all the benefits gained over the past 50 years.
That proposal, Goodwin said, “is basically taking our whole contract and throwing it in the garbage.”
Both sides blamed each other. Bonamo said the company wants a $100 a month health care contribution put into place. He said that the company has been spending $4 billion a year – or $400,000 an hour – on health care costs in recent years. He also said the company’s other 135,000 employees contribute to their health care costs.
The union has countered, saying Verizon also wants to cut employee pensions and health care benefits, cap sick time at five days per person and institute merit pay.
New City-based CWA Local 1107 (Communications Workers of America) represents about 800 active and retired employees who live or work in Rockland County. The CWA and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers represent about 45,000 Verizon workers in the Northeast.