CWA asks Pennsylvania PUC to investigate Verizon's outside plant infrastructure

The Communications Workers of America has waged another attack on Verizon (NYSE: VZ) as the union has petitioned the Pennsylvania Utility Commission to investigate what it claims are unsafe conditions at a number of the telco's outside plant facilities.

CWA said its investigation reported what it characterized as hundreds of dangerous locations. The union documented over 200 examples in 13 counties where it says it found unsafe facilities caused by not taking four actions: replacing damaged, bent and broken poles; repairing ore placing cross-connect boxes and remote terminals; repairing or replacing damaged cable; and controlling falling trees or vegetation near its facilities.

CWA has asked the PUC to launch its own investigation into whether Verizon is meeting its statutory obligation to provide "adequate, efficient, safe and reasonable service and facilities."

Over the past three years, CWA said the PUC has received more than 6,000 complaints of inadequate service, but since the PUC often transfers customers to Verizon before taking a complaint, the real number of complaints is likely higher. Many of these complaints document multiple days without service over several months, and have led to missed medical calls and an inability to call 911 in emergencies.

Verizon was quick to dismiss the CWA's investigation and plea to the Pennsylvania PUC, telling FierceTelecom in an e-mail that it is "part of a narrow-minded attempt by the Union to try and divert attention from our on-going contract negotiations."

"As we've seen many times in the past, Union leaders have an ill-advised pattern of creating campaigns filled with mischaracterizations and inaccurate statements," Verizon said. "This is another example of that same, old broken record."

Verizon said that it continues to make investments to maintain its wireline network every year. In 2014, it invested a total of $5.8 billion and $3.4 billion to date in 2015.

"If there's an issue that needs to be addressed, we will look into it and fix it, if necessary," Verizon said.

The telco has asked the CWA to work with it to create a new labor contract.

"If the CWA truly wants to improve our network, they could start by working with us at the bargaining table on a new contract that's fair to our employees, our customers and positions the company on a path toward success," Verizon said.

Pennsylvania is only one state where the CWA has called on regulators to look at the state of Verizon's wireline network.

In September, the CWA asked that federal and state regulators in the 11 states where Verizon operates wireline networks investigate its claims that the telco is not performing necessary repairs and upkeep on its copper landline networks. 

For more:
- see this CWA release

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