A strike hasn’t happened just yet with the 39,000 unionized members of Verizon workforce, but that’s not to say that negotiations between the telecom giant and employees from nine states aren’t riding over rough ground.
Yesterday, Associated Press reported that meetings to determine a new labor contract came to a halt when union bosses walked out on negotiations because of an impasse on retirement plans and health care coverage.
The walk-out marks the end of a month-and-a-half of bargaining after the previous labor contract expired.
Verizon bosses say the company has spent six weeks doing “good faith bargaining” and have given a “very strong effort” to mediate.
On the other side of the contentious coin stand union leaders, who say Verizon’s attempts at mediation have been nothing more than a cost-cutting free-for-all.
One union representative was quoted as saying Verizon has made “$1 billion in profits” in the past 18 months but that employees’ job security has weakened in that time.
Verizon has earned $1 billion a month in profits over the last 18 months, and paid its top handful of executives $249 million over the last 5 years, but continues to insist on eliminating our job security and driving down our standard of living.
The walk-out spurred Verizon to offer a new contract Saturday night, which is still on the table. It also led the company to “question” the commitment level of the union’s negotiators.
In response to an interview with news site NJ Spotlight, Verizon spokesperson Rich Young was quoted as saying he wonders why negotiations would cease when some “technicians in New Jersey” and other areas are earning more than $150,000 per year.
He disputed the union’s arguments that the company is slashing benefits, saying technicians in New Jersey and other parts of the metropolitan area earn in excess of $150,000 annually.
Fortunately for Verizon customers, unionized employees will continue to work during the impasse.