Verizon deploys additional contractors as CWA, IBEW reject telco's new labor offer

Verizon (NYSE: VZ) has made another move to keep its maintenance and installation schedules on time by deploying thousands of additional employees as wireline workers represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) continue their labor strike.

The new workers are a mix of Verizon employees who are on special assignment and contractors who are currently enrolled or have recently graduated from the telco's technical training classes in Virginia. These replacement workers will handle everything from network maintenance on the existing copper and fiber networks to filling in at the customer service centers.

"While we'd rather have our seasoned veterans in these positions, each day, more and more customers are giving us high marks in that their inquiries and issues are being successfully resolved in our call centers and in the field," said Bob Mudge, president of Verizon's wireline network operations, in a release. "We are taking additional steps to ensure our services are available as our customers deserve and expect."

However compelling Verizon claims its progress is, a number of members of the CWA 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."

Using a mix of 1,000 wireline employees who have returned to work and other replacement workers, 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."

Verizon's announcement about its replacement workforce comes a day after the telco issued what it says is its best and final offer for its wireline union employees who are currently on strike. The telco's labor agreement proposal includes a 7.5 percent wage increase over the term of the contract, as well as continued access to high quality healthcare at an affordable cost, excellent retirement benefits and, contingent on proposals for flexibility in managing and deploying the workforce, continued job security (no layoff) protection for eligible employees.

CWA and the IBEW rejected Verizon's proposals, saying they aren't acceptable.

"Sadly, Verizon has refused to compromise on its most extreme demands, like its call to further outsource American jobs overseas, while rejecting our offer to save the company millions in health-care spending without gouging retirees," said Lonnie Stephenson, president of IBEW International, in a statement. "The company's final offer doesn't address those concerns and will do nothing to keep good jobs here in America."

Dennis G. Trainor, VP of CWA District 1 and Ed Mooney, VP of CWA District 2-13 said in a joint statement that Verizon's latest offer includes too many elements that will cause harm to its members.

"Verizon workers remain on strike and are standing strong on the picket lines," Trainor and Mooney said in a joint statement. "At negotiating sessions in Westchester and Philadelphia today, executives refused to back off of callous proposals that would hurt working families and destroy middle class jobs, including shipping jobs overseas and outsourcing work. The company also failed to budge on the issues facing Verizon Wireless workers. Verizon workers, customers and shareholders need the company to get serious about negotiations and building a stronger company."

For more:
- see Verizon's release
- here's CWA's statement
- and IBEW's statement

Special Report: Verizon CWA, IBEW 2016 strike: full coverage

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