- Gentlemen, start your drones: Judge’s ruling opens door for commercial use
- Soldier who hid, bragged about not saluting flag to be punished — in secret
- ‘Maverick’ of the seas: ‘Top Gun’ school for U.S. ship officers to launch
- Putin declares Sochi Paralympics open amid Ukrainian protest
- ‘In Jesus name, we pray’ sparks ire at Ohio council meeting
- Navy’s first laser weapon ready for prime time; drone killer to deploy this summer
- Billionaire backer: Rick Santorum ‘needs to be heard’ in 2016
- Obamacare fallout: 49 percent pessimistic; 45 percent ‘scared’
- DHS accused of holding U.S. citizen at airport, using emails to pry into her sex life
- Seattle socialist: Minimum-wage discussion skewed by ‘right-wing’ GAO analysis
Verizon, unions ‘far apart’ as Sunday strike looms
Verizon Communications Inc., the region’s top telephone service provider, is facing a 12:01 a.m. Sunday strike deadline, at which time 45,000 union employees in nine states, including Maryland and Virginia, as well as the District, may walk off their jobs.
On Thursday, negotiations appeared to be heading down to that deadline, with neither side expressing great optimism. The last time Verizon’s workforce struck the firm was in 2000, when members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) walked off the job for 18 days.
“The parties are still very far apart,” IBEW media director Jim Spellane told The Washington Times. “Verizon came in with a very draconian set of proposals to cut back [working] conditions, to take it back decades, basically. Our members are obviously resisting that.
“A strike is a drastic action, and it’s a hardship on everybody,” he added, but “it is a possibility.”
Candice Johnson, communications director for the CWA, said that while that union’s “workers want a contract,” Verizon “has made a number of unreasonable demands, especially for a company that has been quite profitable, [having] made $20 billion in profits the last four years.”
Verizon spokesman Richard J. Young, speaking from Philadelphia, where talks are being held, said the firm is “negotiating in good faith, and we hope to reach final agreement that balances the needs of all parties.”
However, he said, the “economy is in a difficult period, and our wireline business has its own set of challenges,” referring to the firm’s traditional telephone business, where customers are connected via a line that comes into the home. That is where the CWA and IBEW members work, and that business has, Mr. Young said, “been declining for past 10 years as consumers use alternative technologies, including wireless and cable telephony.”
Mr. Young asserted that customers are ditching traditional wireline service in favor of wireless cellphones and cable — as well as Internet-based telephony services, such as Vonage and McLean-based Primus Communications. He said the firm is “operating under a cost structure that was set in place several decades ago. Some of the work rules are out of touch with today’s marketplace.”
“One way is to alleviate some of these costs,” he said.
The firm’s request that unionized workers make a “contribution” towards health care premiums is a sticking point, however.
On the company’s side, Mr. Young said, nonunion employees of Verizon currently pay part of their health insurance premiums, while, in total, the firm “spends more than $4 billion annually on health care, or $400,000 an hour for our employees.”
While declining to discuss specific plans, Mr. Young said the union had been given “several proposals with as little as $100 a month” being requested.
“From a profitable company such as Verizon, it doesn’t make sense,” she said.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Mark A. Kellner is a religion columnist for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- KELLNER: Troubling tones in too many religious debates
- KELLNER: Did a prominent rabbi find Jesus — and does it matter?
- KELLNER: 'Failed' states among most dangerous lands for Christians
- KELLNER: Positive thinking key to Horowitz's 'One Simple Idea'
- KELLNER: The year in religion offered hope, peril
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
Taxpayers must pay the freight for over-budget train projects
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Rand Paul wins 2014 CPAC straw poll, Ted Cruz finishes a distant second
- Bill Clinton cashes in on struggling nonprofit hospital
- Vietnam says it may have found door of missing Malaysian jet as intel look into stolen passports
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Bill Clinton poses for photo with Bunny Ranch prostitutes
- High schooler suing parents for money shot down by judge
- Italy outraged over U.S. gun dealer's 'David' ad
- Why Malaysia Airlines jet might have disappeared?
- CPAC 2014 straw poll results
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again