Verizon's union workers accuse company of delaying Hurricane Irene repairs

While Verizon's (NYSE: VZ) unions may have agreed to come back to the bargaining table for a new labor contract, they are engaged in a new fight that claims the telco is taking too much time to make repairs on parts of the wireline network that were affected by Hurricane Irene.

Chris Shelton, VP of Communications Workers of America District 1, said in a Huffington Post article that Verizon's workers are "ready, willing, and more than able," to make repairs but that that the telco is denying them overtime hours to get repairs done on its wireline networks in Long Island and upstate New York as payback for the recent strike.

John Bonomo, Verizon's director of media relations for the region, agreed that there were thousands still without landline service in New York State, but downplayed the importance of that service disruption and denied that the company was forgoing overtime.

Bonomo said that the service provider saw "no major outages" and that it did not declare an emergency because "the traditional landline phone is not as vital as it had been in past years." Instead, many of its customers used their wireless phones. However, some customers did have some wireless coverage issues in the Long Island area.  

What has been actually holding up the repairs, said Bonomo, was that it was waiting for electric utility companies to restore electrical service.

Claims of Verizon denying workers overtime comes as the telco and the two unions--the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)--head back to the bargaining table to hammer out a new labor contract.

Right now, the unions are working under the existing contract that expired in August.

For more:
- Huffington Post has this article

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