The Communications Workers of America (CWA) says that nearly 40,000 Verizon workers all across the East Coast of the US will walk off the job this morning as part of the strike over a long-running contract dispute with the operator. The union and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) have been trying to hash out a new contract for ten months.
The workers involved are employed in Verizon's wireline business. This includes the FiOS fiber-optic Internet service, as well as fixed-line phone services.
The union says it is concerned about Verizon outsourcing and offshoring more jobs. It claims that Verizon has already moved 5,000 jobs overseas, and is pressing to send even more jobs to Mexico, Philippines and elsewhere.
For its part, Verizon says that it has offered wage increases, continued retirement benefits and healthcare benefits, but that union leaders decided to call a strike rather than work on the issues.
This stoppage is expected to be the largest in the US in recent years. Verizon, however, is no stranger to massive walkouts. Some 45,000 workers staged a two-week strike in the summer of 2011. (See Verizon Strike Gets Uglier.)
The new work stoppage could mean seriously delayed repairs on Internet and phone connections. Basking Ridge, N.J.-based Verizon says that it has hired thousands of non-union workers to cover the strike.
"It's regrettable that union leaders have called a strike, a move that hurts all of our employees," said Marc Reed, Verizon's chief administrative officer, in a statement Wednesday.
The strike took a more political turn later in the day, after Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders visited a Verizon picket line in New York on Wednesday and praised the workers for their "courage" in taking on Verizon.
Verizon's CEO, Lowell McAdam, didn't take kindly to that at all, and hit back via a post on LinkedIn called "Feeling The Bern of Reality -- The Facts About Verizon and The 'Moral Economy'."
"The senator's uninformed views are, in a word, contemptible," he wrote. The post lambasted Sanders for his statements on whether Verizon pays its fair share of taxes and its spending on infrastructure, as well his getting involved in the labor dispute.
"I challenge Sen. Sanders to show me a company that's done more to invest in America than Verizon," McAdam wrote.
Sanders, who is on the campaign trail in and around New York state this week, soon tweeted his reply:
I don’t want the support of McAdam, Immelt and their friends in the billionaire class. I welcome their contempt. https://t.co/OIiykGeHQT— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) April 13, 2016
"What I care about is that they stop destroying the jobs of their employees and start investing in cities like Buffalo and Baltimore," Sanders stated.
CWA workers on strike were out in the NYC area. There's no word yet on when how long the strike might continue.
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading