Verizon says replacement workers completed 15K new FiOS installs during strike

Verizon (NYSE: VZ) says that the thousands of replacement workers it has dispatched during the current wireline worker strike is helping it close the installation and repair gap for FiOS and other wireline services.

In order to provide network maintenance and installation of FiOS and other services during the ongoing labor strike of its wireline employees represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) unions, Verizon recently had to deploy thousands of additional replacement workers. These replacement workers, which include a mix of special assignment and contractors, are currently handling duties of the company's striking workforce, filling roles in the field and in the company's customer service centers.

During a typical week, Verizon conducts about 30,000 to 35,000 installations each week, with over 30 percent of customers opting to install services themselves.

Rich Young, a Verizon spokesman in an e-mail to FierceInstaller, said that these workers have been able to help Verizon maintain installation timelines.

"They are going far better than expected," Young said. "Our employees on special assignment are exceeding expectations. We've dispatched and have completed more than 15,000 new installs, plus thousands more that did not require an actual tech dispatch."

Joining the replacement workers were 1,000 employees who no longer wanted to strike and have returned to work. As a result Verizon said it "has successfully resolved tens of thousands of repair dispatches, tens of thousands of inquiries in our customer service centers and have fulfilled thousands of new FiOS orders."  

This is an improvement over where Verizon was initially after the strike began over three weeks ago. A number of subscribers that had set April 13 as their FiOS installation date, which was the first day of the labor strike, said they were told service installation would be delayed.

One of those customers was New York City-based recruiter Jessica Baron. According to a Wall Street Journal report, Baron was concerned, like other new FiOS customers, that the strike would delay or possibly prevent them from getting service. Interestingly, Baron said she did not care about who was conducting the installation, but rather that it gets done on time so she can continue working.

Verizon's move to dispatch this replacement workforce comes only a day after the company presented union leaders with its last, best and final contract offer. This new contract proposal includes a 7.5 percent wage increase over the term of the contract, as well as continued access to healthcare at an affordable cost, retirement benefits and, contingent on proposals for flexibility in managing and deploying the workforce, continued job security (no layoff) protection for eligible employees.

Being a near-term fix, a number of the striking workers have criticized the replacement workers hired by the telco to handle repairs and installations on its wireline networks are failing to abide by "basic safety practices."

Verizon refuted the CWA's claims, calling the allegations "very misleading."

For more:
- see Verizon's release

Special report: Verizon CWA, IBEW workers' 2016 strike: full coverage

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