Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) put out a statement late last week insisting that its landline operations are "performing solidly' amid an ongoing strike by 45,000 union workers, though the company also admitted that incidents of network sabotage are increasing.
The statement said Verizon has encountered more than 90 acts of network sabotage since the strike began on Aug. 6. The number of such acts jumped in the last week since about a dozen were reported during the first weekend of the strike. Some of the most recent incidents include a case in Pennsylvania in which phone lines to a police station are believed to have been intentionally severed. The company said it is offering a $50,000 reward for further information in connection with some of the network sabotage incidents that have occurred throughout the carrier's Mid-Atlantic and Northeast markets.
Verizon also has continued to stay busy seeking court injunctions against acts of illegal picketing and intimidation tactics by striking union workers. At the same time, the company said late last week that managers have been working hard to ensure that most customer calls were being responded to promptly.
Meanwhile, striking workers have filed complaints against Verizon with the National Labor Relations Board. Also, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) union is planning a rally for later this afternoon in Northern Virginia to support the striking Verizon workers as they seek to stop Verizon from imposing what they call about $1 billion in contract concessions. Though union workers allow that the concessions are what forced the strike, many of them, including an International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) leader who says in the Boston Herald that he is participating in the fourth strike of his career, say they are fighting for job survival. That point is hard to argue when you consider how the wireline operations of most telcos have shrunk in recent years.
Both sides continue to insist on their willingness to discuss the concessions and reach an agreement, while accusing the other side of being unwilling to bargain. In any case, the anger and vitriol on display from striking workers, as well as Verizon's insistence that everything is proceeding in a business-as-usual mode, suggest that this strike will be the longest, most momentous, emotionally-wrenching and likely costliest that even the most veteran members of the telephone industry can remember.
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