Verizon workers continue work stoppage

Stephon Johnson | 5/5/2016, 1:06 p.m.
Almost three weeks ago, 37,000 Verizon technicians and customer service representatives walked off the job, pushing for a better contract ...
Verizon workers on strike Contributed

Almost three weeks ago, 37,000 Verizon technicians and customer service representatives walked off the job, pushing for a better contract with their employer. The Verizon workers’ work stoppage stretches from the Northeast of the United States to parts of the mid-Atlantic.

Verizon officials stated that they have made their “best final offer,” which includes a 7.5 percent wage increase, the continuation of the company’s 401k match plan and “layoff protection.”

“We’re putting our last, best final offer on the table, one that provides the foundation for quality jobs now and in the future,” said Marc Reed, Verizon’s chief administrative officer, in a released statement. “From the beginning, our goal has been to reach an agreement that’s fair to our employees, good for our customers and helps our company better compete in the digital world. This offer meets those objectives. A better offer would be hard to find.”

But officials from the Communications Workers of America said that even with the layoff protections for workers, the company could still be allowed to cut into job security protections, which could lead to unionized workers being pushed off the job.

Since the strike began, Verizon’s nonunion employees have been filling in and, according to Verizon, “have resolved tens of thousands of repair dispatches and have fulfilled thousands of new FiOS orders.”

But another battle has risen during the strike as Verizon has reported acts of vandalism involving the severing of optic cables and damage to terminal boxes, accusing groups of “sabotage.”

“Last week, Verizon reported that it was investigating 24 suspected criminal incidents in five states since April 13,” read a Verizon statement. “As of yesterday, that number has increased to 57 incidents in seven states.”

“These are criminal activities, affecting people’s safety and putting lives at risk,” said Michael Mason, Verizon’s chief security officer, in a statement. “We are investigating all reports and pursuing all avenues to assist law enforcement in finding and convicting the perpetrators of these acts.”

New York, according to Verizon officials, is the most affected state and currently has 15 incidents under investigation.

But the union claims that the alleged vandalism is actually shoddy work performed by nonunion workers.

“Basic safety practices aren’t being followed as unqualified managers and contractors hang cables, place poles and operate heavy equipment throughout the Verizon footprint, which extends from Massachusetts to Virginia,” read a statement from the Communications Workers of America. “Many hazardous incidents have been documented, and the scope of the safety violations undermines claims by Verizon officials that they can properly maintain service during the strike. Union workers and safety experts worry that it’s just a matter of time before someone is seriously injured or killed.”