Negotiations between Verizon and the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) continued Monday despite the lapse of the employment contracts covering more than 37,000 wireline employees in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.
Despite the midnight Aug.1, 2015 expiration of the contracts and lack of agreement between the company and workers, no strike has yet been called and employees remain on the job.
“We are disappointed that after six weeks of good faith bargaining and a very strong effort by the company, we have been unable to reach new agreements with the unions,” said Marc Reed, Verizon’s chief administrative officer. “We’ll continue to meet with union leadership with the goal of reaching agreements that are good for our customers and our employees and put Verizon’s Wireline unit on a path toward success in the years to come.”
Over the weekend, Verizon presented the unions with a proposal that included changes to the company’s previous proposals on healthcare benefits, retirement benefits and other subjects. This proposal remains on the table.
A recurring theme in the battle between the CWA and Verizon has been an audit from officials in New York City that determined Verizon had left many unfulfilled requests for fiber access within the city despite the company’s 2008 promise that it would bring its fiber network (FiOS) to any and all customers within the city that want it. Verizon contends that it’s held up its end of the bargain and that any unserved areas are attributed to difficulties in gaining authorization from building owners.
On Thursday, the CWA launched attack ads in New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and Delaware, that accuse Verizon of not keeping its promise to build out fiber service, and also enlisted the help of various New York State officials in the negotiating process.
Despite hopeful expressions that an agreement can be reached, Verizon has taken extensive measures to ensure that services will continue to be delivered to its customers in the event of a work stoppage. The company reports that it has trained thousands of non-union employees and business partners in network and customer service functions, including FiOS, copper repair and maintenance and general customer service functions.
“Millions of Americans rely on Verizon for the ability to communicate, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” Reed said. “We remain fully prepared to handle any work stoppage so that our products and services will be available where and when our customers need them.”