CWA union claims Verizon temps are endangering citizens with shoddy wireline work

Members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), one of the two unions whose Verizon (NYSE: VZ) workers are on strike, say that replacement workers hired by the telco to handle repairs and installations on its wireline networks are failing to abide by "basic safety practices."

It's the latest tactic in a strike that, since beginning three weeks ago, has seen both sides accuse each other of nefarious deeds such as blocking access to and from Verizon facilities, calling police to disperse strikers, and sabotaging phone services and infrastructure.

The CWA said that its members have documented several instances of safety violations and hazardous incidents, such as stringing cable improperly, accessing potentially high-voltage infrastructure in an unsafe way, and in one case, mucking up a telephone pole installation so badly that striking field technicians stopped to give them "advice on how to do the job right," according to a statement released by CWA.

"It's very troubling that Verizon is sending out replacement workers who don't know how to take the most basic safety precautions," said Dave Newman, industrial hygienist with the New York Committee for Occupational Safety & Health, in a CWA release. "The evidence shows hazards such as people stringing cable over roads without controlling traffic and equipment left unsecured in trucks that could bounce out on a highway and cause a serious accident."

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

"More than 20,000 non-union Verizon employees are now on special assignment helping to ensure that our customers can connect where and when they need to," a Verizon spokesperson told FierceTelecom. "Since the strike started, this dedicated workforce has successfully completed about 100,000 outstanding issues and have helped completed thousands of successful FiOS installations. They have done great work and we are very proud of their accomplishments."

Verizon said that it has logged at least 57 suspected incidents of sabotage in the past two weeks, an increase it estimates of more than 100 percent.

The spokesperson told FierceTelecom that it also filed an injunction in New York that would, among other things, prevent union picketers from standing within 15 feet of a Verizon worksite, employee or contractor, and would limit the number of picketers near a worksite or retail store depending on the size of the facility.

Regardless of the finger-pointing, the ongoing strike has caused many customers' opinions of FiOS and Verizon Wireless to drop, according to a YouGov BrandIndex survey.

For more:
- see this CWA release
- see this Verizon release

Special Report: Verizon-CWA 2016 strike full coverage

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