36,000 Verizon Workers Go On Strike Amid Contract Dispute

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36,000 Verizon workers have walked off the job Wednesday after failing to reach a new labor agreement.

This is the largest strike in the United States since Verizon workers last walked off the job in 2011, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That strike involved 45,000 workers.

Most of the striking workers service the company’s landline phone business and FiOS broadband network — not the much larger Verizon Wireless network. They have gone without a contract since August, and their union, the Communication Workers of America, says it is fighting to get Verizon to come to the table with a better offer.

The union’s list of complaints is a long one: Verizon has outsourced 5,000 jobs to workers in Mexico, the Philippines and the Dominican Republic. Verizon is hiring more low-wage, non-union contractors, the union says.

The union also claims Verizon won’t negotiate with people who work in Verizon stores and is closing call centers. And Verizon is asking workers to work out of state, away from their homes, for months at a time.

Meanwhile, the union says Verizon is cutting costs as its profits have soared.

“Verizon’s corporate greed isn’t just harming workers’ families, it’s hurting customers as well,” the CWA said in a statement.

It’s true that Verizon continues to post record profit, but most of that is coming from its wireless business. The “wireline” business that most CWA workers serve is in decline.

Wireline sales have been steadily falling over the past several years. Last year sales fell by nearly 2%, and Verizon lost 1.4 million voice customers.

To help make up for the losses, Verizon continues to offload some of its wireline assets, and it has been offshoring some of its workers overseas. The company says it saved $300 million in employee costs in 2015.

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SOURCE: CNN Money – David Goldman and Robert McLean