Verizon said it is deploying “thousands” of additional personnel and new automated technologies to continue its wireline and call center operations after union officials denounced the carrier’s most recent contract offer.
According to Verizon, the help will consist of both contractors and employees on special assignment who are currently enrolled or have recently graduated from its technical training classes in Virginia. The backup personnel will help fill in gaps in field work and customer service centers that were created when the carrier’s workforce went on strike nearly three weeks ago, Verizon said.
Verizon’s president of wireline network operations Bob Mudge said Verizon would “rather have our seasoned veterans in these positions,” he said the company is “taking additional steps to ensure our services are available as our customers deserve and expect.”
In addition to bringing on new workers, Verizon said it is also taking advantage of remote and automated technologies to serve customers during the strike. For example, the carrier said many of its Fios products and services can be ordered online and self-installed, eliminating the need for a technician to go to a customer’s home. Options also exist on the company’s website to answer questions remotely and allow customers to pay their bills online without having to speak to a representative, the company said.
Verizon’s Consumer and Mass Business president Tami Erwin said the technologies, which have been installed over the past few years to improve customer experience, are “especially useful during challenges such as a strike.”
The announcement follows Verizon’s extension of its “best and final” offer to union leaders on Thursday.
The offer – meant to sate the demands of nearly 40,000 Communications Workers of America (CWA) and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) union members who walked off the job on April 13 – includes three wage increases totaling 7.5 percent over the term of the contract, continued access to “affordable” health benefits and “generous” retirement provisions.
CWA leaders last week, however, denounced the offer and called on the company to “start bargaining in good faith.”
“(Verizon) executives refused to back off of callous proposals that would hurt working families and destroy middle class jobs, including shipping jobs overseas and outsourcing work,” CWA leaders said in a statement. “The company also failed to budge on the issues facing Verizon Wireless workers. Verizon workers, customers and shareholders need the company to get serious about negotiations and building a stronger company.”
The current strike follows 10 months of unsuccessful contraction negotiations between union leaders and Verizon. Employees involved in the protest have been working without a contract since August 1, 2015.
The strike has now been ongoing for 20 days.