Verizon: Labor Strike Won't Affect FiOS

With 65,000 union workers possibly going on strike at any second, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) says that any potential labor dispute will not affect its FiOS rollouts.

"Planning for these types of situations starts months in advance," says a Verizon spokesman. "The objective is to run business as usual, so there's no expectation that there would be any reason to delay or slow down."

For FiOS, the contingency plan is an all-hands-on-deck approach. The company would bring in retirees, contractors, and/or workers from western states where unions are less common. "We're deploying people who have any skills at all," the spokesman says.

The drawback is the cost, but "it's worth it," the spokesman says. "You don't want to backslide just because you have a labor issue."

Verizon's contract with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers expired Saturday night. But negotiations progressed far enough for the unions to agree to work under the old contract until a deal is reached.

Both sides acknowledge that a strike at any moment is still possible. A strike would affect workers from Massachusetts all the way down to Virginia.

Verizon recently passed the 2 million mark with FiOS Internet subscribers and the 1.4 million mark in FiOS TV subscribers. (See Verizon Hits 2M FiOS Subs.) But the 176,000 TV subscribers it added during the second quarter was a significant drop from the 263,000 it added in the first quarter. In fact, it was FiOS TV's lowest subscriber add since March 2007.

Verizon is hoping for a boost from New York City, where it's now able to offer FiOS TV. (See FiOS in NYC: Verizon's Daunting Task, FiOS TV Hits NYC, NYC Getting FiOS TV by Year's End, and Fiber-to-the-MDU: Verizon's Manhattan Project.)

Verizon has nearly 21,000 union workers in the state of New York but reiterates that it would not expect a strike to affect its FiOS debut in NYC.

— Raymond McConville, Reporter, Light Reading

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