Negotiations Under Way After Verizon Workers Hit Picket Lines Across NY, NJ

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Labor and management representatives say Verizon Communication Inc. negotiators are meeting in New York.

Candice Johnson of the Communication Workers of America and Verizon’s Richard Young had no immediate word on progress toward settling a strike that was in its second day Monday.

Thousands of Verizon workers were on strike Monday after contract negotiations fell apart over the weekend.

The contract for 45,000 employees expired at midnight Saturday after the company and the workers were unable to come to terms on issues including health care costs and pensions.

1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports: A Loud And Clear Message 

Several hundred striking workers demonstrated outside the company’s headquarters in lower Manhattan, most wearing red shirts, chanting, “Union busting, it’s disgusting!” and holding up signs that read “On Strike Against Verizon Corporate Greed” and “On Strike for Middle Class Jobs at Verizon.”

About 60 workers picketed in Brooklyn and 200 people held a demonstration in Garden City.

“It’s really emblematic of what’s gone wrong with our country where the people at the top seem to think the solution is to take more money out of the pockets of the middle class and the working people,” Robert Master, a Communications Workers of American spokesman, told 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg. “It’s not good for the people and it’s not good for the economy.”

Picket lines also were going up in Rhode Island, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and Washington, D.C., Master said.

The striking workers are responsible for maintaining and repairing traditional landlines, as well as installing the company’s fiber-optic FiOS service. The dispute does not affect the wireless division at Verizon, the nation’s largest wireless carrier.

Workers covered by the expired contract also include 10,000 represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, who serve as telephone and repair technicians, customer service representatives, operators and more.

A Verizon spokesman said the company has been preparing for a strike and thousands of managers have been sent to help work in the affected states to continue to provide customer service.

verizon picket Negotiations Under Way After Verizon Workers Hit Picket Lines Across NY, NJ

Union members followed a manager and set up a picket outside a resident's home in Great Neck. One of the picketing workers sent in this photo to 1010 WINS. (credit: Anonymous)

On Long Island, some picketing workers have been following managers as they make service calls and set up pickets outside customers’ homes.

Verizon said it was asking for changes in the contract because its wireline business has been in decline for more than a decade as more people switch to using cellphones exclusively. It had 25 million landlines at the end of the second quarter, down from 26 million at the end of 2010. It has been selling off some of its landlines to other phone companies.

Master said Verizon wanted worker concessions at a time when it’s making billions in profits and top executives were making millions in salary.

Contract negotiations began June 22.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  • whatsup

    In case you union workers don’t know it, times are tough thanks to obama and his massive spending. Pay your fair share towards your health benefits and pensions. You are greedy if you think that you should contribute not one red cent to your benefits but that others should have to foot your bill.

  • Open Eyes

    I recently walked by the Verizon building on 230 West 36th Street and noticed the protests have taken a more dangerous tone. I observed employees dressed in red knock down items out of another employee’s hands that was entering the building. The police just stood there and watched as the employee entering the building continued to be harassed. Luckily the security guard in the building intervened before it started looking like the London riots out here.

    I would hope the press exposes what is evidently becoming a dangerous situation before actual physical harm takes place against someone on either side. Protesting is a basic American right but so is the freedom to earn a living without fear of retribution.

    I am confident you will take this as seriously as I do and fulfill your duties as the conduit of information to the general public.

  • allen

    Everyone is under this idea that the unions are asking for more in this bad economy. This is not the case .Its this company that makes a profit of 14,000,000 a day that wants to take back what the workers already negotiated in previous contracts. Its easy to say that the unions should just accept that they have to concede but when you have all this bonus money for the upper management (258 million), it just doesnt fly.We make a decent wage,but most are still living week by week. no union worker is getting rich.

  • nocommonsense

    Don’t defend these people. Besides tossing aside a perfectly good job while the rest of the country can’t find work, they are animals. Look on YouTube for videos under Verizon Scab as a union worker puts his young daughter in front of a truck entering a verizon location, then screams obscenities for 5 minutes. Are these the kind of people we should be defending?

    • Joe

      No, you are sadly mistaken…the REAL ANIMALS are the greedy people that run Verizon and try to suck the life blood out of their members after reaping BILLIONS in profits based upon the backs of these workers….don’t take my word for it, see for yourself how much this company earned this past quarter!!! You sound like a disgruntled manager that has to finally get off his butt & WORK for a change!!!

      • laura temp

        Pretty funny comment coming from a disgruntled union workers whos on strike! Probably doing more work walking the picket line then on your average 8 hour day on the job….Pay sucks though.

  • elchiablo

    Can one of you guys who are defending Verizon in this issue (ie., Danny, Garth, Pat Johnson, etc) explain to why you think the multi-billion dollar company run by a man who makes $35M+ is correct in taking away benefits from people earning a modest wage? Is it that you WISH you had these benefits but don’t? Seriously, I want to know. Enlighten me

  • Concern

    Unions cents for charity.

  • danny

    Anybody who is striking during some of our country’s worst times, simply does not care about his/her country. You are only looking out for yourselves. You do not care about making your country better. You just want more and more and more. I know our government has let us down, but now is not the time to do this. If you do not want to work, I can think of about 10% of the country that would just love to have your jobs in the present state. Sure, some will say ” corporations are getting rich off of the backs of their workers”. Well, if you don’t like that, then open your own company and pay your employees top dollar. See how long you survive.

    • tc

      You don’t have a job? Right

  • Jan

    unions are what’s wrong with this country

    • lgd

      your mentality is whats wrong with our country!!!

  • jeff

    Unions are on strike –wait for Verizon service cost hike.Those money would come out from our pockets

  • ProFromDover

    It’s the Fi-ber! (Can you hear me NOW?)

  • steven

    Ha! More greedy Americans running companies overseas and broke! Just like the Union’s in Detroit that ran our automakers bankrupt! Everyone wants to compete with the neighbor, got to have to bigger house better car ,, greed greed greed!

  • Garth

    In this economy, good luck with health care and pesnions. If for the most part every other industry is cutting back on pension contributions, and passing on more costs of health care, what makes these nitwits so special ?? Have these fools even notices what happened to the stock market today ?? I hope they all have fat bank accounts, because it is unlikely the Verizon will cave in any time soon. They ought to be thankful they have jobs, and not push the envelope asking for more. That nonsense bankrupted GM and lots of other industries..

    • Edwin

      I don’t think you people get it no one is asking for more they are trying to keep what they have and you have to understand that every contract negotiation the middle class average American is giving up something when does it stop.

    • Joe

      Well lets see what happens, Garth. For your info, the company DID cave in back in 1989 after a four month strike! This company is VERY solvent as you well know but has a history of not showing it’s gratitude to it’s workers who made them the BILLIONS they earn every quarter!

  • Old Campaigner

    These guys are out their minds doing this in this economy. I ‘m a retired NYNEX worker and was in the 1970 strike. We stayed out for 7 months, Nixon put a wage freeze on and we finally went back to work for a dollar more a week than originally offered.
    The union is leading these guys down the garden path again.

    • Lori Zapata

      Someone has to stand up now for all Middle Class Americans and the Poor. Union Busting in Nationwide. I am proud these workers are standing up for all of us. This is not just about wages, or healthcare. Verizon has started shipping employees all over the state of New York with sometimes a days notice. My husband was sent to Buffalo with a days notice. He was told it would be for at least a month, or it could be a year. He didn’t have a choice. He was put up in a hotel by Verizon, but was pulled away from his family and children for a month. Thank god it was not a year. Some men were responsible for the evening care of their children, it didn’t matter. Now Verizon wants the right do continue to do this, but now to not pay for hotels. So they can ship you anywhere and it would be at your additional cost. There are nearly 100 concessions Verizon wants the employees to make and so far Verizon will not negotiate on any of them. Not a one. Caving in is what brought our economy to a stand still. These men will not yield. The fight is here and the fight is now.

      • petyer

        stand up my rear….now is not the time to strike…economy is bbbbad and you morons are asking foe cake with icing on it….just be happy you get the cake without the icing…nitwits.

      • danny

        At least he has a job. Keep it up. The next time, his job will be shipped to Mumbai.

      • Rachel Carbonara Byrne

        Does that give the right to union workers to go against the “scab” workers who are also sent there against their will but don’t have a union? Not all states have unions you know and I know someone who was fired from Verizon for a stupid reason but there are no unions in Florida to protect them. Why should people un north be treated any more special than the rest of the world. I was in the union as a teenager as a cashier but that was back in the 90’s. Things have changed and there are so many people right now who don’t have a job and would kill to get a job making as much as these people are with any benefits. I’m sorry but they should have to pay something for benefits right now they don’t. I understand your issue was different then what they are negotiating now though.

  • iggy

    “BILLIONS in PROFIT” and it wants cut-backs in worker salary and benefits. what nazi-republikan led sc**bags. make the worker the enemy. even with billions in profit.

  • laura temp

    I do not understand what turns “normal” people into such animals under the cloak of strike. I’m not saying EVERYONE on strike is like this – however – As reports start to filter in – SOME Verizon union workers are destroying personal property as well as Verizon property. They are harassing people verbally and physically and instances of outright violence have been reported. Union workers should remember a few things – these people are your still your co-workers­, someones mother, father, wife, husband, daughter, son etc…and they are not there to TAKE your job. They are there because you choose to walk off the job. The company you are destroying is the one that paid your bills yesterday and will again whenever the strike gets resolved. Protest the contract, stay on strike, fight for what you believe your “entitled” to – but have some respect for yourselves and those whose jobs require them to cross the picket line. Stop the violence, harassment and destructio­n. It gives you and the unions a bad name.

    • KPMc

      Where were these incidents “reported”? I have heard of no destruction of property and I certainly didn’t hear of anyone using physical violence against a temp, manager or costumer so where is it you are getting these stories besides your own imagination?

      It is true that during the last big work stoppage a Verizon employee attempted to sever a major cable line but the moron had no clue what he was doing and electrocuted himself.

      Now if you have evidence or “reports” as you say, of vandalism or violence please share otherwise keep your propaganda lies to yourself!

      • laura temp

        For propaganda lies all you have to do is call the union hotline #s. For the record I never claimed anyone was physically harming customers. And just because YOU didn’t hear about any incidents doesn’t mean its not happening. Can you “prove” its NOT happening? Stop burying your head in the sand. Read the paper. Here are just a few examples.

        Fiber-optic lines have been deliberately cut in parts of Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Maryland as part of several acts of “sabotage” that have occurred since Saturday.

        One particular incident happened in Cedar Grove, in which someone stole electronic equipment that resulted in a power failure, which affected numerous residences and businesses, as well as the local police department.

        In several states across the Eastern region there were even reports of sliced fiber optics cable lines, which are used to transmit data for the FiOS television, Internet and phone service.

        10 incidents of fiber-optic lines being deliberately cut in the Bronx, Pomona, Farmingdale and Guilderland in New York; two separate incidents in Tewksbury, Mass.; as well as incidents in Bel Air in Maryland, and East Dover, Oakland and Plainfield in New Jersey.

        Phones in part of Lewis, Oneida, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties went down Tuesday because of a likely case of sabotage.

        Police are investigating apparent acts of sabotage.

  • c mac

    Pat …why cant you who works hard pay less for health insurance and be paid more to put food on the table??? when we step on each other we all lose – don’t demand that the next guy gets less demand that you get as much. the philosophy you are using and corporate greed through outsourcing industry are lowering the standard of living in this country that people gave their lives to build.

  • Pat Johnson

    This protest is so 1950’s but we are not in the 1950’s anymore.
    I work ,I pay a lot for health insurance,more than my families food budget.
    Why can’t these employees who at least have a job pay more??

    • iggy

      don’t make the worker the enemy. we know it’s corporate greed. that’s the nazi-republican way… blame the worker. please don’t defend the nazis

      • ted

        People equating republican with nazi demonstrate a lack of intellect and common sense. Get a grip and grow up a bit.

    • Royal Chapman

      The objective of the union is to continue to work FOR the members, not to keep adjusting downward. Otherwise, union dues do nothing except give union administration jobs. The union is supposed to keep the standard of living movng higher, not give in and say OK we’ll give more for health and receive less in wages. What other purpose does the union have. If they aren’t going to represent me, then I can negotiate a deal mytself and save the union dues. Hell, that alone is a raise. I certainly shouldn’t have to concede because somebody else doesn’t have a job. We work to improve ourselves; We don’t work so that someone else gets the reward, Subsequently we are rewarded for our labor, our education and our experience, for ourselves, not for someone else. If you work and pay health insurance, that’s the way it is in your company Why not negotiate for better?. In this company the person interviewd and hired was given a certain benefit, that’s why he took the job. He didn’t take the job expecting that benefit to disappear. BTW, aAre you listening state of North Carolina?

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