Verizon (NYSE: VZ) has not yet come to an agreement with the wireline workers represented by the CWA and IBEW, but a top company executive says they are getting closer to a resolution as the strike enters its sixth week.
Fran Shammo, CFO and EVP of Verizon, told investors during the MoffettNathanson Media & Communications Summit -- which itself faced protests from striking Verizon workers and their supporters -- the company working with the unions and a federal mediator.
On Tuesday, the unions and Verizon executives met in Washington with Labor Secretary Tom Perez and Allison Beck, an experienced federal mediator who the parties agreed would assist in the ongoing contract negotiations.
"We're entering into our sixth week at this point," Shammo said. "All I can say is that we're at the mediation table after the Secretary of Labor called the leadership down to Washington, D.C. on Sunday and they agreed to go to federal mediation, but at this point we're not allowed to talk about any of that."
Shammo added "that's a good sign to make some progress."
As the strike continues, a key concern remains about how Verizon is handling new consumer and business orders for FiOS and other services.
Right now, Verizon's management team and replacement workers have been focused on conducting network maintenance and repair. However, the telco is now starting to conduct new installations, a trend that Shammo says will continue to ramp.
"Our installs and new orders have significantly dropped," Shammo said. "Maybe over the last week and a half we just started to do some initial installs and new orders."
If Verizon is able to come to an agreement with the unions soon, Shammo said that it will be able to quickly ramp back up FiOS installations.
"Coming out of the first quarter, we had built a lot of momentum," Shammo said. "In my history of this situation what normally happens is customers who were going to buy FiOS during this period of time take a step back and wait until things settle down."
Shammo said that the customer segment that takes longer to recover is those potential customers that move into a new community.
"The piece of FiOS subscribers that we will never get back are the people who move," Shammo said. "A person who moves into a new home wants service today and if you can't deliver it they're going somewhere else so they're probably lost for two years."
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