You might have noticed the #VerizonStrike trending on Twitter for the last few years. That is because after over 10 months of failed negotiation, 36,000 Verizon workers went on strike this morning. This means that Verizon will have to use nonunion workers to perform basic repairs, network maintenance, and customer service on the copper and fiber wireline networks.
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The stroke was called by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), who complained that Verizon is looking to move a lot of their jobs offshore, to outsource work to low-wage contractors, to force technicians to go on months-long assignments from home, and they will likely close call centers.
“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 union also complains that Verizon has moved to cut staff instead of installing more FiOS fiber lines like they promised. One of the places that won't receive the promised expansion of their 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 denies these allegations.
Verizon also criticized the unions today, saying that the company has “proposed wage increases, continued retirement benefits (including a generous 401(k) match) and excellent healthcare benefits.” Verizon has asked for help from a federal mediator to settle the arguments, but the unions don't want that.
Verizon says that over the last year, they have trained “thousands of non-union Verizon employees and business partners” to take over “various network and customer service functions, including FiOS and copper repair and network maintenance and general customer service functions.”
Most of the employees that are on strike are on the wireline side, and only a small portion work for Verizon Wireless, according to The New York Times. The strikes are taking place in front of Verizon facilities and Verizon Wireless stores.
As for now, Verizon has contracted work to more than 5,000 employees outside of the US. This means that any customer service calls that are received are handled by workers in other countries, predominantly the Philippines, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic.
This may be part of the plan, at least the unions think, because Verizon wants to increase offshoring and “dramatically expand its outsourcing of work to low-wage non-union contractors” for copper and fiber line installation and maintenance.
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Because of a plan to close call centers, “hundreds of Verizon workers are at risk of losing their jobs or being forced to commute as much as three hours more each day,” the unions said.