NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Unions representing more than 36,000 Verizon landline phone and cable workers are threatening a strike starting Wednesday morning if the company doesn’t agree to a new contract.

The unions, the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, say Verizon wants to freeze pensions, make layoffs easier and rely more on contract workers.

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“We’re standing up for working families and standing up to Verizon’s corporate greed,” said CWA District 1 Vice President Dennis Trainor. “If a hugely profitable corporation like Verizon can destroy the good family-supporting jobs of highly skilled workers, then no worker in America will be safe from this corporate race to the bottom.”

Trainor said Verizon wants to shut down call centers and send jobs overseas.

Verizon said there are health care issues that need to be addressed for both retirees and workers as medical costs have grown, and it wants “greater flexibility” to manage its employees.

“The traditional wireline business is far different from what it was 10, 20 or 30 years ago,” Verizon spokesman Rich Young told 1010 WINS on Monday. “Yet under our contract we are still forced to deal with provisions that were put in place 30, 40 or 50 years ago. They are no longer applicable today.”

The latest contract had expired last August. Both sides say negotiations have been unsuccessful.

“The company has put forth several comprehensive contract proposals during that period. We offer great jobs now and we firmly believe that when a contract is reached they’ll continue to be great jobs,” Young said.

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Verizon Communications Inc. says it has trained thousands of non-union employees to fill in if the strike takes place in nine eastern states and Washington, D.C. The company had 178,000 employees as of December.

“Any customer that doesn’t have Fios in towns like Brookhaven, Riverhead, Southold, East Hampton, they’re the ones who are most vulnerable,” Michael Gendron of Communications Workers of America told CBS2’s Dave Carlin.

Verizon said it has cross-trained thousands of managers to handle union duties, but Verizon customers are leery.

“Having them be on strike is a big inconvenience for the public unfortunately because people need to do what they need to do,” Verizon customer William Tarantola said.

The last Verizon strike was in 2011 and lasted for two weeks.

Some comfort for Verizon smartphone customers, both management and users said they should not be affected.

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