Verizon union workers ready to strike to protest mandated concessions

Verizon's (NYSE: VZ) union workers in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions aren't happy about the ILEC's call for concessions and will strike if an agreement isn't reached before their current contract expires next week.

Union leaders, however, believe that Verizon, which reported $1.61 billion in Q2 profit with gains in wireless and wireline FiOS and business services, is merely being greedy.

Although 91 percent of Verizon's main union, the Communication Workers of America (CWA), authorized a strike, Verizon said that this vote does not necessarily mean that a strike will occur. Instead, these votes are just part of the process during any challenging contract negotiations.

Among the many concessions that Verizon wants from its union employees is that they should start contributing from $1,300 to $3,000 for their respective family health care plans. Already, its 135,000 non-union employees make similar contributions.

In addition, Verizon has proposed measures to more easily lay off workers and have annual raises reflect job performance, freezing pensions for current employees and ending them for future employees, and imposing a five-a-year sick day limit. 

Robert Master, a spokesman for the communications workers said that "Verizon has put on the table the most aggressive set of contract demands we've ever seen."

However, Verizon maintains that the changes are necessary moves to counter slower growth in its wireline business.

"We're looking to make meaningful changes in the contract, which reflect the state of the wireline business as well as the economy," said Lawrence Marcus, Verizon's senior vice president for labor relations. "The wireline business is basically fighting to reverse a 10-year decline in our profitability."

For more:
- The New York Times has this article

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