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Verizon strikes continue through second day

by Kelly MacNeil on August 8, 2011

Around 45,000 Verizon workers went on strike yesterday, and the issue has yet to be resolved between the telecommunications company and labor unions, according to Business Week. This marks the first time that employees have refused to work in more than 10 years.

The company claims that it has already trained around 40,000 managers and temp workers to step in and fill the contested positions. Overall, the conflict arose because Verizon was trying to ask for "concessions" from its landline business, the news source reports. 

"It is clear that some of the existing contract provisions, negotiated initially when Verizon was under far less competitive pressure, are not in line with the economic realities of business today," Verizon chief executive officer Lowell McAdams said yesterday. "In fact, under these contracts, benefit costs have risen consistently even as the wireline business has shrunk."

One of the main points of contention has to do with healthcare provisions included in the existing contract. Labor federation AFL-CIO has called for rallies in support of the strike in more than 100 locations.

As for the impact on Verizon customers, there could be delayed responses on service calls and installations for both phones and web service could be hamstrung as well. The Communications Workers of America (CWA) has vowed to stay strong until their demands are met – or until Verizon eases the contract changes.

"These aren't negotiations, they're an insult," Bill Huber, a manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) told the publication. "This is a clear attack on our unions."

Some picketers have said that the strike may last months, according to The Star-Ledger. Overall, Verizon is hoping to have workers contribute to healthcare premiums and tie pay to performance. Sickness and death benefits would be eliminated, disability leave dropped from 52 weeks to 26 and pensions would be frozen at the end of the year.  

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