Nearly 40,000 Verizon employees on the East Coast of the US have gone on strike, following almost a year of failed negotiations.
The strike was called by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), which complain that Verizon is seeking to move jobs offshore, outsource work to low-wage contractors, close call centers, and force technicians to go on months-long assignments away from home.
“Verizon executives want wireline technicians to work away from home for as long as two months at a time, anywhere from Massachusetts to Virginia, without seeing their families,” the CWA said yesterday. “Working parents like Isaac Collazo, a cable splicer from New York, fear they will be forced to choose between caring for their kids and keeping their jobs.”
The unions also say that Verizon has cut staff instead of living up to promises to install more FiOS fiber lines. Despite plans to expand FiOS in Boston, Verizon has largely stopped expansion of the fiber network.
“For years, Verizon has been cutting vital staff—it has nearly 40 percent fewer workers now than a decade ago—and has failed to hire the personnel necessary to properly roll out the [FiOS] service,” the unions said. “In New York City and Philadelphia, Verizon has failed to meet the build-out obligations under their citywide cable franchise agreements. And Verizon has failed to build out FiOS in Baltimore, western Massachusetts, virtually all upstate New York cities, and many towns in Pennsylvania.” (Verizon has denied allegations that it hasn’t lived up to FiOS construction agreements.)
Verizon, for its part, is sending in nonunion employees to do the unionized workers’ jobs. There will be a deterioration in service for its customers in the region, and any ire about that should be directed at Verizon, not at the striking workers.