About 39,000 nationwide are standing on the picket lines.
It’s considered the largest strike in Verizon’s history. About 39,000 employees of the telecommunications giant are walking the picket lines across the country, as this labor action enters its third day.
Talks between Verizon and the Communications Workers of America have been stalled for months. One of the issues involves the company’s decision to outsource a lot of the customer services positions to foreign countries. “Verizon is trying to send our calls overseas. So we’re fighting to keep those calls that are generated by our technicians and our customers to stay in the United States,” says Mike Somers, the President of Local 2100 of the CWA in Maryland.
A few Verizon employees were picketing the company’s wireless store Thursday on West Patrick Street in Frederick.
Somers says his CWA local represents about 650 Verizon workers from Frederick to Cecil County. But he says the CWA represents between 5,000 and 6,000 workers in Maryland.
Somers says another issue between the rank and file and Verizon has to do with health care. “We want to keep our health care coverage what we have, and continue paying around what we are paying, and the company wants to close to double it,” he says.
Another grievance, Somers says, is Verizon wants to end free health care coverage for its retirees, and require them to pay for it just like a regular employee. “The last contract, we lost the free health care for the retirees,” he say. “And now they want to take the health care cost to the retirees and make the retirees pay what an active employee is paying.”
Verizon says this strike could affect service for customers ranging from Massachusetts to Virginia who have a land line from the company, including telephone and FIOS Internet. The Company says it has trained thousands of temporary replacements until the labor dispute is settled.
Somers says the strike could last three weeks or more. “I believe that the strike could last long. But I think if the public gets on our side and let’s Verizon and the corporate greed know that they’re supporting us, I think it will help us end the strike early,” he says.
“We’re fighting a company that made $39-billion profit, that’s after they paid out all of our salaries, retirees health care,” says Somers.