As Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and wireline workers represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) continue their labor negotiations, local members said they are in the process of conducting a strike authorization vote.
CWA said in a regional bargaining report that it wants to send Verizon a "strong message that we will do whatever it takes to achieve a fair and just contract."
The company and the unions met earlier this week at the Rye Town Hilton in Rye, N.Y. During the meeting, the union worked on proposals, reviewed information provided by Verizon, and awaited more information that was previously requested.
However, the CWA added that Verizon and the unions have yet to come to terms on various issues such as health care, pension and sick-time benefits.
"We are less are than 3 weeks from expiration and Verizon is hell-bent on destroying this Union and its members standards of living," CWA said in a statement. "Locals and members need to continue their mobilization efforts."
The CWA said it will hold a rally on Saturday, July 25, at 140 West Street in Rye.
Rich Young, a Verizon spokesman, told FierceTelecom in an e-mail that they "have been meeting with union leadership almost daily and continue to be engaged in active discussions."
Young added that while union leaders can call a strike authorization vote, "we, however, remain committed to negotiating in good faith on a new contract that's in the best interest of our employees, our company and our customers."
For its part, Verizon said that it has put together a contingency plan if 38,000 of its union workers represented by the CWA and the IBEW decide to strike. In June, the telco began training over 15,000 non-union employees to fill in if a strike occurs.
Non-union employees are personnel being trained in a number of functions including customer service, repair and maintenance and other areas in order to "ensure that any dispute between our company and the unions does not impact our customers."
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This article was updated on July 17 with additional information from Verizon.