Verizon employees upset with the progress of contract negotiations are on the picket line again in Philadelphia and along the Eastern Seaboard.
The collective bargaining agreement for Verizon’s 45,000 unionized workers expired Friday. The two sides started negotiations June 22, but have been unable to find common ground. Verizon spokesman Lee Gierczynski said the company is calling on its wire-line employees to make some sacrifices to help it compete. “The wire-line business has been declining and customers are continuing to turn to other alternatives for communications,” said Gierczynski. “So the company must make some meaningful changes to its cost structure if it wants to compete and grow and succeed in the future. And we’re looking to the union to help us make some tough choices that reflect the business realities of the world we operate in.”
Shirley Bell has worked as a sales consultant for Verizon since 1993. She says her company’s calls for concessions are disheartening because of the large profits it has accrued in recent years. “They’re coming to us and saying, you know, we have to give everything up and that’s not fair,” said Bell. “We have families, we’re working-class people, we just want to be able to get a fair contract so that we can continue to work for the company.” Verizon’s main revenue-producing business, its wireless arm, is not involved in the dispute because it is a separate company with mostly nonunion workers.